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. shogun

    Jonathon – your tirade about Democrats on an article about the Michael Phelps and the 2012 Olympics shows your true ignorance. I also know many uneducated and uninformed Repubicans who fall prey to the scare tactics and fear mongering perpetuated by that political party. What does that have to do with Michael Phelps? Nothing. Take your nonsense elsewhere.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Greek American

    @Andacar
    What are you talking about idiot? I'm not downplaying his successes, just saying it's a shame that so many young people may look up to him and want to be like him, yet he is a pot-head. I'm not against it, just choose not to do it myself. Thanks for your useless input though.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • scared for future

      Shouldn't this go to show that not every pothead is a dead-beat, low-life loser? That some (read: practically all) of them are able to consume the drug and also contribute positively to society?

      May 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      lulz at losers and anti pot haters trying to bring down a man who succeeded. America in decline haha. Has everything to do with haters

      May 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. James

    Yea because this career he chose gets in the way of smoking that leaf

    May 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Greek American

    @Andacar
    Oops, sorry, my last comment was not meant for you. My apologies, wrong username.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. StayClassySanDiego

    No wonder see n n is getting blasted in the ratings...if the comments on a swimmer are any indication of the hate and negativity of their viewers, no wonder people go elsewhere. Plus they remove comments all the time...

    They pander to the bitter 'government make it fair for me crowd', so hating on somebody that actually WORKED to be successful if pretty much par for the course.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BRBSanDiego

    Most of the sucessful people I know smoke weed. So what is the big deal? Alcohol kills brain cells while THC just relaxes a stressed person with no after effects. This herb has been used for hundreds of years by some of the most brilliant individuals because it creates new ways of viewing your environment and unlocks portions of the brain not often explored. It is a sensory enhancer, not a sensory destroyer.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • LBR

      Actually the research shows the opposite.... 60 Minutes did a piece on this not too long ago. Smoke it now and you'll pay for later. I could go into details but it would just bore you and I doubt anything will stop you from smoking it. Maybe we'll see you in our lab when your brain loses its way. That is IF BoboCare doesn't forces us to leave the US....

      May 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    As usual – no mention of his drunk driving arrest.Major cover-up (no mention of it at the last olympics at all)by NBC.I hope this summer when they fawn over his eating 16 pancakes for breakfast I wonder if ol' Brian Williams wil ask him if he washes the pancakes down with beer.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Julie

    So he smoked some pot...OMG! Big F word deal!...what in the world is wrong with some of you?
    Don't think, for even a minute, that any comment/reply will change how I feel, I have been around long enough, and I will repeat BIG F WORD deal!

    May 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Luchiki

    He dominated the last Olympics and was one of the best swimmers... but then he decided to take a "break", smoke pot, drink irresponsibly, and become everything else but a role model. He had a gift and many people worked very hard for him to develop that gift. He owed it to other people to honor that sacrifice and make a difference. For all those myopic idiots out there who claim "He won many medals" you are missing the forest for the trees (google it if you do not understand). He should have done much more than that!!

    May 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCT

      He has that option, as does every free person. We are not China, we celebrate individual choice. Would you impose the same judgement upon a football player? A tennis player? A golf player? Give the kid a break, he's just human and has every right to live his life as he wishes. If you had to train relentlessly for your entire life to win something, don't you think you'd want to cut loose and live a little? Don't be so hard on people, and don't be so hard on youself! Lighten up and live a litle.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      In other words he's a normal human being with imperfections as we all have

      May 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JCT

    Michael Phelps is an American Hero! Let's celebrate his success and be proud that he is going back to win more medals for his country. Does his personal life have anything to do with this? We are Americans, we cherish freedom! Long live Liberty, Truth and Justice. Go Michael, we love you.

    May 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kilroy

      A hero maximizes his abilities to reach his full potential ...I hope he wins 14 more gold medals but it's just disappointing to hear he might not reach his full potential because because he wanted to party and play video games...

      May 7, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kilroy

    He had a great Olympics 4 years ago...he could go down in history as the greatest Olympic athlete in the history of the sport with a repeat performance. But now he hopes to maybe win 3 medals. His coach didn't even know if he would make the team. Marajuana robs people of their passion to compete. It also is a gateway drug leading to deeper addiction. if you want to compete at a high level stay away from the poison...Just ask Ricky Williams...

    May 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lenny

      You moron, he did not start smoking the day after 2008 Olympics.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Clintidote

    Boring and useless. Nobody cares. Can't imagine having to try to talk to this bozo for even 5 minutes.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lenny

    So hilarious to see so many jokers here have an opinion on how Phelps should live his life! Guys, he's a millionaire and he's retiring at the age of 26 while you guys slave all your life away to make what he made in few months! His name is in the record books forever where as even your kids will not remember once you die.Your opinions don't really matter. Let the champion decide what he wants to do with his life. Smoking, drinking is not really a big deal. Give him a break

    May 7, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TonyTiger

    Michael has bounced off the walls... (lap swimming) more times than any other athlete and won more Olympic races. I hope he set the record and nobody in the Olympics will ever surpass his efforts, SWIM ON MICHAEL and BRING BACK THE USA GOLD. All the others who sit behind their key boards and talk trash... they have never swam and have no clue to what it takes to be a real winner! Set the mark Michael! Bring back the GOLD! Then retire and enjoy your life!

    May 7, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. namo

    He is just retiring from swimming. He does still own a business. It's called Meadowbrook Aquatic Center (in North Baltimore City). MD.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
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