Does Phelps sink or swim as an SNL host? Can you say gurgle…

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Michael Phelps becomes the first athlete since LeBron James opened the 2007 season to host “Saturday Night Live,” and considering his, uh, charisma and personality, not much can be expected of him. Right?

At least he’s got eight gold medals to swing around in case things go south.

“No matter what happens, they can’t take those medals away,” said SNL producer Lorne Michaels in a conference call Thursday morning.

Phelps, who says among his friends he can deliver a great deal of sarcasm, notes that “Tommy Boy” with Chris Farley is his favorite movie — so that gives him a great SNL foundation.

“I was nervous coming into this because I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “After the read-throughs yesterday, I got into it. I felt completely confident yesterday and feeling better about it today. I probably was more nervous about doing this than swimming in Beijing.”

Michaels said that he could tell “right away” when doing the run-throughs that Phellps “knows what he’s doing. He’s not going to be a professional sketch player, but he’ll do just fine.”

Just don’t look for Kenan Thompson to play Phelps’ mom.

==A list of all athletes who’ve hosted SNL (linked here), which starts with Fran Tarkenton in 1977 (the second season), includes O.J. Simpson in 1978, for some reason has Tony Danza (since he did participate in boxing at some point in his punch-drunk career) and Jason Lee (he was a championship skateboarder) and, our favorite, Wayne Gretzky in 1989, after he set L.A. afire with his trade from Edmonton, and did a great spoof of an Elvis Presley movie called “Waikiki Hockey.”

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== A list of the best athletes who’ve hosted SNL, according to this site (linked here)

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  • Cougar Gaucho

    Tom Brady was memorably good. One can hope Phelps isn’t a complete stiff.