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Phelps draws fans in New York as book released

Dec. 09, 2008, 8:45 p.m. (ET)

NEW YORK(AP) Michael Phelps is thrilled that all the attention he received during the Beijing Olympics raised the profile of swimming. Some people, though, were sick of all the coverage.

As he was racking up a record eight gold medals, Phelps reminisced on Tuesday, he kept getting joking text messages from friends from high school. They'd say: “Get off the TV. I don't want to see your face anymore. I'm not turning the TV on until the Olympics is over.”

Plenty of people in the New York area had no such trouble on Tuesday; they couldn't get enough of Phelps. Fans started lining up outside a midtown Manhattan bookstore at 12:30 a.m. - 12 hours early - to get his book signed on the day it was released.

Then a crowd of about 2,000 turned out for a talk at Adelphi University on Long Island. Tickets had sold out in 90 minutes. Donna de Varona, the Olympic swimming gold medalist and broadcaster, chatted with Phelps for about 45 minutes on a variety of topics.

Phelps revealed how competitive games of Risk and Spades would get among members of the U.S. swim team each night in the Olympic Village.

“I can't tell you how many arguments we got into over Risk, over who knew the right rules,” he said. “It got really intense.”

Another favorite memory from Beijing was seeing other star athletes in the Olympic Village dining hall. Roger Federer would come in and spend 45 minutes accommodating the dozens of people who asked for his autograph and took pictures with him.

Phelps discussed his struggle with ADHD as a child. In elementary and middle school, he couldn't keep from rocking on the back legs of his chair.

“I can't tell you how many times I got yelled at,” he said. “There would be two little divots where I rocked back.”

By the time Phelps arrived at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Tuesday, the line outside snaked around the corner and down the long street.

Girls squealed and giggled as they reached the table where Phelps sat. Those farther back craned their necks around shelves to catch a glimpse.

Phelps signed copies of “No Limits: The Will to Succeed” for nearly two hours.

“I didn't know what to expect,” Phelps told The Associated Press. “They said the line was wrapping around the building this morning, and then I got here and it was.

“It was pretty cool. It was interesting to see how excited everybody was. (The book is) out, so hopefully we'll get some good feedback from it.”

When it was over, Phelps took a deep breath and made a show of stretching his neck and arms. Asked how his hand was doing, he laughed and said, “Oh, it's fine.”