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. NL

    Looking forward to watching you one more time. Then by all means, go live your life! Congrats – so well earned.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • ouch

      Agreed; I hope Phelps gets at least three medals and has a solid Olympics. I hope he will be happy in retirement. I wonder what his next career will be?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PKSwimmer

    Clearly a case of burn-out. – Dunno how he has lasted this long.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • R. Lochte

      Me either.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Martin Fan

      A burn-out? Funny.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ron in California

    Athletes must endure a lot to be the best at what they do. Nothing comes easy in any sport. Kudos to Phelps for his stamina and perseverance. I hope he rakes in the endorsement money .

    May 7, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. snowdogg

    Hope he stays more "retired" than Favre did!

    May 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rich

    It's amazing how the anti-drug crowd will minimize anyone's achievements and use their drug use as a platform to rail against drugs. Phelps could swim til he was 50, cure cancer and be the first man to walk on Mars and if he then retired from all that and did some drugs, they'd talk about that instead of his achievements, and act like he could have done so much more if he'd just stayed away from drugs. Talk about pessimists!

    May 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      @Rich, I agree completely! To me, the fact that he smokes weed and achieved all this, makes him all the cooler in my books. I am a huge advocate for smoking weed, I also workout 6 days a week and hold a very successful full time job. There's no reason why you can't live a normal life and still smoke weed. People who smoke weed and accomplish nothing else... there is something else wrong with them... they would be losers with or without pot.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • PushingBack

      I have never used it myself but I fail to see how a plant could gain this much notoriety. Alcohol is obtained from plants too, causes far more illness and still remains legal. I used to judge people who used marijuana but with age comes a new view on certain things in life.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ThisJustin77

    He should become a lifeguard and put his swimming to good use, no?

    May 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      I think that would be a great idea. He could be a volunteer lifeguard. There are many, many inner city pools that could really use such help.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bill

    He was just here in Indy winning as usual. I wish he would have stood up to Kelloggs and been an advocate of a plant we all know is amazing. He proved smoking weed does not make one second class, inferior or "stupid".
    Being able to retire and travel is great. Nepali hash sounds like tons of fun. I will.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Malavaina

      @ Bill
      There are a bunch of morons out there, damn if you do, damn if you don't. Michael is the best.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Malavaina

    I hope he can repeat what he did in China. Amazing sportman! I don't even swim but watching this man doing it is like being in a bliss.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DEH TOOK ER JOBS

    Too bad he smokes pot. It really held him back......

    May 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KEVIN

    Go Phelps!!!

    May 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. brilliant

    All this and a pot smoker too!

    May 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Flipper

    So how many medals do you have? None? I thought so.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • stu

      22 from Boy Scouts.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Semper fi

    Strong USA contingent of swimmers going to London. Go USA Swimming!

    May 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ralph

    Pathetic loser? I don't see that. He's tired and done. So he smoked some weed. Big deal.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Adam Seidel

    Sounds like he's about ready to be done. It will be interesting to see if he still wins any golds. If he does get the 3 for the record, that's an incredible testament to his willpower.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
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