Michael Phelps says he will retire after London Olympics
Michael Phelps swims in the 100-meter butterfly event during the 2012 Indianapolis Grand Prix in March.
May 7th, 2012
10:04 AM ET

Michael Phelps says he will retire after London Olympics

U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps says he'll make one more push in the pool at the Olympics in London this summer, but after that he's hanging up his Speedo.

Phelps told Anderson Cooper in an interview on "60 Minutes" on Sunday that while it took him quite some time to get back into training for London, he's ready to go for the gold again. If he can get three medals during the Summer Olympics he will be able to retire as the athlete with the most Olympic career medals.

Debbie Phelps, Michael's mother, still likes the idea of him going to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics, in part because she wants to travel there. His consolation for her: "We'll go watch."

"Once I retire, I'm retiring," he said on "60 Minutes." "I'm done."

His coach, Bob Bowman, said he wasn't sure Phelps would even get to the Olympics. After a series of paparazzi photos showed the Olympic golden boy partying and Phelps slacked on practicing, everything was up in the air.

"I thought it was a 50-50," Bowman said. "I really didn't have a feel for whether he would come back or not come back."

In the fall of 2009, Bowman said, Phelps probably missed six weeks of practice. Phelps said he took a trip to Vegas, lounged around the house, played video games and did anything to distract himself from the pool.

"It was hard, because I didn't know if the passion or the fire was still inside of me," Phelps told Cooper. "And it took awhile for me to actually realize it myself. Bob couldn't tell me, my mom couldn't tell me. They couldn't help me find it."

But he's found it, he says, and is training harder than ever. Phelps talked about one of the interesting ways he's preparing for the Olympics to step up his endurance: sleeping in a chamber that simulates altitudes of 8,000 or 9,000 feet.

"It's just like a giant box," Phelps said. "So, it's like the boy in the bubble."

Bowman said despite Phelps' slow start to getting back into full training mode, he believes the icon of U.S. swimming can still nab several medals.

The question is, how many?

"I don't know," Bowman said. "That's up to him."

Phelps has no doubt he will contend and put on the best show he can during the Olympics across the pond.

"I kind of feel like my old self again," he said. "I'm swimming times like I used to. I'm swimming races how I used to."

But he may be even more excited about his life after the Olympics.

"I've been able to go to all these amazing cities in my travels and I haven't been able to see them at all," he said. "I see the hotel and I see the pool. That's it. And (after the Olympics) I'm just going to go and do whatever I want to do."

soundoff (206 Responses)
  1. Natalie

    Don't you think you could post a recent photo with this story since hundreds of Michael Phelps photos were generated last week at swim trials in Omaha?

    July 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. sharon hart stewart mattson

    every body do well and prosper in all you do once the 2012 olympics has completed

    July 15, 2012 at 6:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. ghost recon future soldier

    Hello there, I discovered your site by means of Google even as looking for a similar matter, your website came up, it looks good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kate

    Really sad he's retiring. He has the capability to win many more medals and become unbeatable. Besides, he's still so young... Many old people out there want to retire, but can't due to finances. It seems a bit frustrating he can just walk out when he wants to.

    July 29, 2012 at 4:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Shelby

    It's disappointing to hear that Michael Phelps is retiring, hes still young and has at least two good Olympics ahead of him if the motive and training is there. However, it seems like he's lost both in the past four years. He already has surpassed the most Olympic medals of all time, so in a way I guess he is content and ready to retire.

    August 1, 2012 at 1:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
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