By Jo Ling Kent, ABC News Beijing
The number 8 is a lucky number here in China. Sunday, with eight gold medals in hand, Michael Phelps agreed.
"I guess it's a lucky number for me now too," Phelps said at a news conference this afternoon. "Seeing 8/8/08 and the opening ceremonies starting at 8:08, I guess it was meant to be."
Over the past 9 days, Phelps has also set seven world records and an Olympic record.
Chinese fans are calling him the "Forrest Gump of the swimming pool" and an "alien from the same speed-breeding planet as 100-meter track gold medalist Jamaican Usain Bolt."
Phelps chalked up his success to luck and a great deal of preparation. "For this to happen, everything had to fall into perfect place," he said.
Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman called Phelps's rigorous training program for the Beijing Olympics "putting money in the bank."
"I guess I put a lot of money in the bank over the last four years and we withdrew pretty much every penny in the bank," he said.
Phelps's recovery routine between races was also integral to his week-long success.
After the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps recalled being exhausted to the core. To recharge, Phelps said he did nothing but focus on bouncing back with sleep, movie-watching, ice baths, massages, and "eating right." The downtime allowed him to bounce back in time for his 100-meter fly semi-final race.
"The only thing that I would have wanted to change was the 200 fly. I think I could have gone faster in that event. It was a wardrobe malfunction," Phelps said, referring to his cracked goggles that blocked his vision. Despite the physical obstacle, Phelps won a gold medal.
Next Stop: Rome
What will Phelps do with all his gold medals? He isn't going to Disneyland but he's eagerly anticipating time with his mother and sisters and heading home for a much-needed vacation. Phelps will remain in Beijing until August 21 at which point he will return home to his hometown of Baltimore.
"I can't wait to get back home...I want to lay in my own bed for five minutes, at least," Phelps said. "I'm going to take a vacation where I won't do anything and I'll sit around...be on my clock and be able to have some fun and hang out with my friends."
As for his illustrious swimming career, Phelps is not retiring anytime soon. "There are still some things I want to do. I want to raise the bar of swimming more," he said Sunday after picking up his eighth gold medal in Beijing.
"After [coach] Bob and I both have a little break, it'll be time to start re-depositing," Phelps said, invoking his banking metaphor for training.
Fans can expect to see Phelps in next year's U.S. national championships in Indianapolis and world championships in Rome. "My mom just told me I better make the team because she wants to go to Rome."
ABC News' Alex Stone contributed reporting to this story.