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. Fishsnot

    Michael Phelps is a TRUE ATHLETE. He is worthy. Amen.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar The Chorizo Champ Of Chihuahua

    I've seen better swimmers at the Y.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Phil Spectre

    You got that right!

    May 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tj

    the guy got caught smoking pot once, so you're saying that he's a worthless druggie who hasn't achieved anything? Hate to tell you but this kid achieved more in his young life than anyone in your family ever will. hater...

    May 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JackM

    Michael has a total of 16 olympic medals;
    Athens 2004 – 6 Gold
    2 Bronze
    Beijing 2008 8 Gold

    May 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bobo

    I would not call the man a loser, but I'm smiling at those calling him a hero. .....he's a swimmer. ...obviously with talent, but he's a swimmer....

    As far as the loser comments, that is a bit harsh. ...yes he did the drugs (and note to those saying it was only once – he only got caught once), yes he's, how old sitting and playing video games? ...but still bit harsh to call him a loser I think. ...I would say he might lack direction, but he himself admits that within the interview.

    and for the record, I'm conservative (for the guy accusing the "hater" of being a lib).

    May 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |

      And I'm sure if you got into a pool you would drown. Every athlete at my school, including my friends whom are on our basketball team, in the Big East Conference, will admit they could never do what we do each and every single day... so call swimming dumb... but all you do is sit around cnn.com and comment on things you'll never dream of doing.

      I bet you don't get up and do strenuous 2.5 hour practice twice a day for 8 months, then take a week break and start it all over for the summer.

      Have a nice day sir, you've just made the biggest fool of yourself.

      May 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • MicLed

      Are you the legendary bobo gigi of France?

      May 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cool Arrow

    With that Chin and Teeth, is he a wookie like Khloe? Chewbacca RRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

    May 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ann west

    đź”´ Goodbye !!!!! what a Boring personality.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. swagner

    Mebbe more reefer would help

    May 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hadley

    Good for him! I was a meager college athlete, nothing in comparison to Olympic level training, however I can see his waiting to retire and live a "normal" life. Of course, he's still a kid who wants to have fun and life live, which is hard to do when you are under the intense pressure (not to mention watchful eye of the public) of being an athlete. I wish him all the best!

    May 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Barry bin Inhalin

    BFD. Get a job.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hevnen

    There are a lot of people who are missing the point of why Phelps can be considered a hero. He has inspired millions of Americans, represented his country, his sport, and the determination of all those who believe(d) in him, and has won. How many times? 16 times. Forget the pot smoking, the video games, or any other non-pertinent information you want to throw around: this man has proven himself has an athlete, good person, and as an Olympian.

    People like Phelps give me hope that there is some humanity left in all of us, and goes to show that those who do good can still be human.

    God speed, Mr. Phelps. You made me proud to be American in Athens and Beijing.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Goober McTuber

    So if he takes a girl to bed inside that “sleeping chamber”, does he join the Mile High Club?

    May 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Barry G.

    I'll hate to see Michael go.

    Who will replace him?

    May 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BlameMe

    Retire? From what???

    May 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan Wenzel

      I know professional athletes don't contribute to society, but have you ever tried swimming 1000 meters? Swimming is hard work.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
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