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. sharky

    Good luck in London, Phelps. Amazing athlete.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Leo

    He is one of the greatest swimmers of all time. He has done a grea job on making his family and America proud. The best of luck to you and you family. Thank you from all of us American.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Not one of... he is THE greatest swimmer of all time. His records and medals speak for themselves.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ShawnDH

    Yep all pathetic LOSERS have 14 Olympic Gold medals. Nice try, winner.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. larry5

    Training at that level is tough to maintain. No matter how good you might be there has to be something burning inside to make that critical difference between winning and second place. It's going to be interesting watching him work all this out.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Barnabas Joseph

    Michael is right. One has to be passionate about what one does. I believe that no one but himself can make the decision about whether to compete. As a fan of his, I pray that he does well in London, and that he does not hang up his speedo. He has a lot to offer to the world.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob Hope's Ghost

    Marijuana is BAD! it once beat me up and stole my milk money. I haven't been the same since.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Leo

    Just wondering how many times have you lost to him?

    May 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    You've just won the gold medal in sarcasm.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John from Toronto

    Good Luck Michael, I am sure you will win gold again, you are a winner and all those bashers out there should simply shut up and leave you alone....u r a winner in my books and its in your blood brother, take care..

    May 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. nagrom

    He made a small innocent mistake and paid dearly for it; considering what others have done and have risen to the top of their game, Phelps owes no one an apology. He put USA swimming in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans and others and he is a class act to follow. I hope he wins at least the three gold medals he is aiming for and then some. He will be missed if he hangs up his speedo but good for him if he does retire. The constant media barrage and tremendous pressure of being a purist ultimately take their toll.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • brilliant

      What mistake? I hope you're not referring to smoking pot – he only apologized because he HAD to. the guy is a natural (swimmer and pot smoker).

      May 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jonathon

    Your comment of Phelps as a "pathetic loser", despite the facts that prove you don't know what you are talking about (he's won several gold medals and I know of no "losers" who have done that) tells me that you are a "Democrat". "Democrats" are known for ignoring "facts" when they get in the way of their pre-conceived ideas. It's thought processes like this (that ignores the facts) that are destroying this country.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • lisaspups

      Jonathon – the fact her is that you are obviosly suffering from the effects of noxious gas. Please pull your head out of your butt and get some fresh air. Maybe you should stick to the story and stop using the blog as a way to spout your political nonsense.

      May 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Interested48

      Go suck an egg.

      May 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Food Zealot

      i know right? Like GWB going into Iraq on the fact that they had WMDs. What a Democrat!!!

      May 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • burnz

      Is that a troll or are you functionally delayed?

      Please tie Phelps to guns, gay marriage and evolution.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. katestlouis

    Go Michael ! i believe in you ! You have the energy within in you to pull this off ! Go for more Gold. Tell your Mom she had her 15 minutes of fame & it is time for you to live YOUR life on your terms. Goooooooo U.S.A. !

    May 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. smokinbluebear

    go smoke em all in london...once he quits i hope he campaigns for medical marijuana in all 50 states...

    May 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • edvhou812

      Ha. Medical Marajuana. Call it was it is and maybe we will have more respect for you. You guys look at it as the same as alcohol, so why not regulate it's RECREATIONAL use? You guys couldn't care less about medical marajuana.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    I don't think you know what loser means...

    May 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jake

    Wow. If there's one person that is not a loser it's Michael Phelps. He absolutely dominated last Olympics and is probably going to do so on this one too. So what if he smokes pot?

    May 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      Anybody who smokes pot doesn't deserve any respect. It is still a filthy habit that is still ILLEGAL.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      i do totally agreed with you Jake

      May 8, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
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