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. Greek American

    More time for him to smoke that BONG.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Khloe Kardasian

      LOL Exactly! He is going to lobby for an olympic bong ripping team, I'm sure he will be able to break some new records

      May 7, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Obamanation

      He's earned it!

      May 7, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Liberated Mind

    It's his bong, he can smoke it if he wants to.....after all, the man has accomplished more than most of us ever will already.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Moreover, he is a multimillionaire. I doubt he will ever give up swimming – he has too nice a physique to just let it go.

      But the punishing regiment to be an olympic athlete has got to take a toll on him.

      Besides, if he wants to go back to the pool, he could always coach. Most universities would bend over backwards to have him on their staff.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. Andacar

    Sidelines grousing Greek? I like a man who has the sense to quit while he's ahead. A lot of other athletes should have this much sense.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • John Connell

      Might you be talking about Brett Favre?

      May 7, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tam

    Is there something not all there with this guy? Something developmental?

    May 7, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Tam-Tum-Toom-Toodles

      What about you? Holy crap.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Havok

      52 gold medals in various events, 39 world records...

      May 7, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • M. Phelps

      When you spend so much time training, recovering and resting, there obviously isn't time for anything else at this level.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Tam, you try swiming 10 hours a day 6 days a week, and see how soon you get burned out by that, especially since you would be wealthy enough to not have to go through that crap anymore.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nick Bruiser

    Dude is having his midlife crisis way too early.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Havok

      He's 27 or 28 and he's not sure if he wants to keep training 6 hours a day, 6 hours a week, swimming 8 miles every day. Sounds about right.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. sfboy127

    This guy is an embarrasment to himself. He has been blessed with so much God given talent but would rather squander it on aimless travels between night clubs and casinos. All the while endulging in booze and bongs. This guys crash and burn is inevitable. Let this be a lesson to the younger athletes...stay off the drugs!!

    May 7, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • D. Torres

      You're wrong.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      He will probably become the most decorated Olympian in history in London. 28 is old for a swimmer as well. Go back to sitting at your desk typing, which is probably followed by a trip home to sit in front of your TV (watching), so you can rest up to judge other people some more tomorrow. Exhausting! Don't know how you can keep up that pace!

      May 7, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Obamanation


      You're mental! Dude has more Olympic Medal than anyone in the history of the games and your maginalizing him? Jelous LOSER!

      May 7, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • JDT

      Ahhh yes... because he's such a bad boy. Get real. The guy has earned a ton of gold medals. He's young and wants to enjoy a life outside of the rigors of training day-in and day-out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Additionally, alittle pot doesn't harm your body compared to our legal drugs; tobacco and booze. Give him a break! I'd say he's been pretty successful (in life) thus far.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      That pot smoker already won 3 medals. How many of the losers don't smoke pot? Truth is that pot doesn't ruin your life, or prevent you from being a productive member of society. Many intelligent, successful and affluent people use it...just like alcohol. Countless Olympic athletes celebrated with Champagne, beer, and shots. Nobody is criticizing them, or telling them they're throwing their lives away. If anything Phelps has brought the lies and hypocrisy about pot into the light of day.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      If it was "god-given" talent then why does he have to spend 90% of his time training?

      He's earned this. It is "Michael Phelps" given talent and I would probably feel the exact same way.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • nessus68

      "Squander"?!?!? He's got 16 Olympic medals, second most over all and most for a swimmer, EVER! This will be his 4th Olympic games, he'll be 27 and I hate to tell you this, but that is getting up there for a world class swimmer, so your whole crash and burn bs is just that, BS! Please crawl back under that rock of yours.

      May 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaulieJ

      @sfboy127 Really? Phelps, at 27, is right at the average age of competing summer Olympians and in a sport much more strenuous than some others that are kinder to the aging process. He's set 39 world records and currently holds 7 of them (3 individual, 4 relay.) What exactly does he have left to prove? You reach a point where you view your past accomplishments and decide whether you wish to continue because of the love of the sport or, you wish to move on a new chapter in your life. Some athletes decide to go out when they're at the top of their game vs. allowing everyone to witness the decline while Father Time takes its toll. And some athletes, whether it's drive, genetics, pure athleticism, experience or any other intangible, are able to remain relevant longer than others. There are folks like Nick Lidstrom, Martin Brodeur, Randy Couture, John Elway, etc. all who enjoyed (or are enjoying) great success into their late 30s/early 40s in their respective sports. While for many others trying to stay in the game that late is often sad to watch.
      How he chooses to spend his down time is his business. If he wants retire so he can hop around the globe exploring the world's casinos while experimenting with the local "herb", power to him. He busted his backside for a lot of years to be nearly perfect in his sport to acquire the medals and records he's gotten. So he gets to retire before he's 30 and enjoy the fruits of his labor which most likely is a more bountiful fruit basket than most of us will amass by working til normal retirement age. Are you jealous and bitter because of this?

      May 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCT

      My ex-girlfriend was partying in Ibiza at a nightclub when low-and-behold who's there partying like an animal but Rafal Nadal. The next week he beat Fedar at Wimbledon. Do you think the Spanish people give a darn if he's partying and enjoying his youth? Why our we so puritanical and judgemental of our athletes? These are young people, they deserve to live and enjoy their youth. Get over it people.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. michaeldominici

    It's not a 'mid-life' crisis. He's reached a point where his soul is restless. He's been around the world but hasn't seen any of it...he's ready to live now. He's bought his freedom.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. T

    He's WAY too young to retire.
    After all, look at Dara Torres, 40+ year old woman who won silver medals in the 2008 Olympics. She was 41 at the time.
    Phelps is what ? Twenty six ? He's barely begun !

    May 7, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • JDT

      he's accomplished more is a shorter period of time. And, really, who takes female-athletes that seriously?

      May 7, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Runner4Life

      Totally different animal. No comparison in training regiments at the level he's competing and the speeds he's amassing.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • sharky


      LOL Wow that isn't s e xist at all. No surely not.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. alpg49

    Training at that level is awful to begin with. Add to it, it's the most boring sport ever in which to participate. I still swim distance for fitness, and used to swim laps for 4 hours straight. The patience, and tolerance to boredom you need is incredible. Let's hope he has his ducks in a row for London, then, some of the good life.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • B. Bowman

      It's only boring if you're average.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • JT

      No, it's even more boring when you are good. The only time it isn't boring is when you are actually racing, and at that point nerves can make it hard to enjoy.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Homer Simpson

    Mike keep being a puppet for the media and try to stop having so much fun with the trips to vegas and the bong. You still have work to do SLAVEBOY.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. ricky

    All this reporter did was watch 60 Minutes and regurgitate. No reporting on their own.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Munchies

      Phelps will be swimming for TYR in Rio.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chris C

    Have some respect on here for an american hero. M Phelps has nothing left to prove to anyone. With his resume he has already accomplished legend status and doesn't have to ever swim again if he choses. He does for the love of the game and I will be cheering for him the whole time. Win or lose matters not to me. Be glad he is respresenting the red white and blue one more time.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  13. Obamanation

    Funny how most of the Presidents of the United States tried weed. Some more than others. But a swimmer smokes some weed and he's villianized? Twisted!!!!

    USA/Phelps 2012

    May 7, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ax

    Go for it Michael. You've logged a lot of laps and a lot of flip turns many a morning and it led to great success. Well done!

    May 7, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • loriey

      Common sense often dictates ones behavior...there is always someone younger & stronger.....best wishes Michael, go for the Gold & go out in style! Thank you for making our country proud!

      May 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lanfear

    didn't he smoke weed? he's cool in my books.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
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