Michael Phelps has vowed he will not swim eight events at the London Olympics in 2012.

Phelps made history last summer when he won eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, beating fellow American Mark Spitz's 1972 record by one as the most ever won by an athlete in a single Olympic Games.

In the process, the 23-year-old set seven World records, eight American records and eight Olympic records and became the most decorated male Olympian of all time with a total of 16 Olympic medals, including 14 golds, the others having been won in Athens in 2004.

His achievements were recognised yesterday by the United States Olympic Committee, which named Phelps its SportsMan of the Year for 2008, but the swimmer insisted he would not try and repeat his epic achievement in London or anywhere else.

‘I'll never swim eight events at a major competition again,’ Phelps said during a USOC media teleconference.

‘I'm almost positive that my last eight-event meet was Beijing.’

Phelps said easing back on his competitive schedule would allow him to enjoy the Olympics in London much more than he had at previous Games.

‘I think I will have more time to take in all the experiences,’ he said, ‘possibly being in the stands and cheering.

‘You know, I haven't had that experience since, I guess, 2001 at my first world championships. So, really being a part of the team more.

‘When you're swimming so many events, all you do is eat, sleep, swim; eat, sleep, swim; eat sleep swim. You never get to be in the stands.

‘I was always warming up, warming down, going back and forth to the pool, eating at the village and then going to sleep.

‘So that's something I'm looking forward to and it's something that should be fun.’

Phelps, who revealed he had returned to serious training on Tuesday with long-time coach Bob Bowman, was delighted with this latest award which followed being named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year for 2008.

‘I think this year as a whole, being over in Beijing and being SI Sportsman Of The Year and now being USOC SportsMan of the year, it's all really been a dream come true and things just keep on getting better.

‘I've just recently started getting back into the water and training a little bit with some kind of 'official' days with Bob and everything that has happened this year has just been something that will be with me forever.

‘It is really is an honour to receive the USOC SportsMan of the year award.’