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. banasy©

    You had me until the specious remarks about facism.
    Then, you lost all credibility.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. news poster

    Maybe the Weed made him the best darn swimmer the world ever seen! I wouldn't care if the guy smoked ferns for crying out loud. He is a champ and what he does on his own time is just that HIS OWN TIME AND BUSINESS!!

    May 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. unowhoitsme

    If more young people did half of the accomplishments as Mr. Phelps, then we wouldn't have a crime problem. Kids get into trouble when they don't have a direction.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brap

      Yeah. They might start smoking pot, right? Or take six weeks off of work cuz they weren't feeling it. Have to go find themselves in Vegas or something. Like a winner.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      @Brap....Man I can just imagine your home life!!! I think I would rather watch a rock grow then be in your household!!!! GET A LIFE and you will be much happier!!!

      May 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. PharaohXX

    I wish the guy all the luck in the world! Pretty sad that his career was tainted by all the hoopla about his weed incident. Just shows how ignorant some jerks in this world can be folks!

    May 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ernie Zippreplat

    He Definitely no Johnny Weismuller

    May 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Martin Walters, Seattle

      Better, even Jane says so.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      You are right. Phelps is much faster.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chicago

    As a Republican I believe Phelps can smoke up all he wants for all I care – as long as he is not hurting anyone by operating a motor vehicle or anything similar. Let him do what he wants with his life. Just realize that if he fails to win any metals the story will be because he is on the chronic. And I have to laugh at the suggestion on here that is smokes it because of ADD. Hysterical. Stop making excuses for people, I think we've had enough of that the last 20 years. He smokes it because he likes it.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DW

    @ Jonthan – I would like to join your Democratic friends, and tell you "Lets wait till November" and see how things pan out. Maybe then you can eat your FACTS.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      At least you admit you don't care about them!!! LOL

      May 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. socalkim

    He's earned his retirement and all the good things his accomplishments afford him. Hope he finds a new motivation for his life after swimming. He's got the world at his feet. Go do great things Michael!

    May 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Liberty Spinner

    Phelps is a very sensible man to know when to quit. He's a great athlete. He's made our country proud. It's too bad we're still in the dark ages about marijuana. It is a left over from J. Edgar Hoover the fascist and paranoid FBI director. He's long dead and his stupid ideas about marijuana should be dead with him.
    Michael Phelps is a credit to his family, his community and our nation.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. john

    He will be turning 27 this year and will be 31 when the next games come up so it makes senese. Most swimmer retire around that age I would think. Plus all the training he has to do can't have much of a life other than swimming. He had a great career good luck to you in the future.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Always pay the lady

    CNN, thanks for pulling my comment because you can't deal with the reality of the scientific method being abused by pot researchers. Again, you have two groups of scientists – one in the USA where we make billions off prohibition and one in Holland where they make billions off pot tourism – that do the same experiments and come up with opposite results. How, if the scientific method is being followed, is that possible?

    Also the fact that Phelps is one of the greatest athletes in the history of the olympics kind of negates him being called a loser and all the "pot is bad for you" arguments. At least 14 times he has been winner not a loser...

    May 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      They will pull your comment if they don't agree with you!!! It is just what CNN does!

      May 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • OfficeSpace

      "Drugs are bad...mmm-kayyy?"

      May 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Barry G.

    I hope Michael Phelps does well in the summer olympics.

    We're pulling for you, Mike!

    May 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Irene

    hell yah! he's the best of the best!! time to have fun and enjoy all uv earned Phelps!!!

    May 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jonathan

    Awww, I was hoping Fred Phelps was retiring forever.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emigdio Alvarez

      I'm just glad they're not related.

      May 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hecep

    I'd bet he would shave 0.005 seconds off his time if he shaved off that drag-inducing goatee.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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