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. democratnindiana

    Go Michael, GO USA!!!!!! Jonathon, now to you, fact: there were no weapons of mass destruction, however, the republicans said there were, does that mean all of you republicans are stupid & don't listen to facts? YES!!! We've lost how many lives to the stupid war the Repubs got us into & the money that has been wasted, don't blame Obama for our financial issues, blame Bush & his twin (George J.R.). I would as a citizen bail our auto industry out & help our people before helping any other country out. Thanks President Obama for caring about the American people- we love you!!!!!!!

    May 8, 2012 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Cybrdg

      Can you REALLY be that simple????? I hope you don't go outside in the real world unsupervised. That's just scary

      May 8, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Zooly

      Michael, just remember if you win too many medals, Obama will make you give them to others. It's only "faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaair". "FORWARD, comrades!!!"

      May 8, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Hellscreamgold

      Hmm...yeah, all those Kurds just randomly up and died and it wasn't the gas that Saddam used or anything. Was totally made up.

      May 8, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hello

    I'm rooting for him

    May 8, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. Anne S.

    I'm glad he will be swimming again in the olympics. And hope he can win all the medals he can. I think he realizes though that he is getting older, and probably getting harder for him. I think in every athlete's life there is a time to have to call it quits. Good luck Michael!

    May 8, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. rtbrno65

    He's going to retire and celebrate by smoking an entire half ounce of weed in one sitting. I might celebrate his retirement in a similar way myself.

    May 8, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Phelps

      I am not going to smoke weed all of it was BS!! I did NOT smoke weed at all or smoke weed NOW.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rodeoguy

    I guess he's just not motivated anymore and would rather just sit on the couch and watch TV and do other things,
    I wonder why?

    May 8, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Case and Point

      Sarcasm right? Because I totally feel for the guy. As a swimmer myself, I don't know how he does it. I have been in the pool for going on 14 years, and after a point you get tired of being in the pool for 5 or 6 hours a day plus weights. It wears you out

      May 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. colin

    Ryan Lochte is going to take him down this go around. You all heard it here first

    May 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. speedbuggy

    Does he sell ( bongs ) at his Aquatic Center?

    May 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meranda Riley

      Haaaaaa!

      May 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Meranda Riley

    Dude, how are you going to retire if youre only participating 2 years? Dont you have to work or whatever for more than 20 or something?

    May 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ronjayaz

    I dont really think I'd want to be champion of anything. The preparation seems enormous, the dedication overwhelming and the question is asked: For what? Y did I do all this just to retire in fame? What a shame!

    May 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CM

    Can't blame him. If I had his money, I'd retire too. I intend to "retire" in my 70s on the floor at Walmart during my greeting shift ... that's the only retirement this generation will be getting. Thanks for looting our country Boomers!

    May 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. maxxine kurtzbein

    Mikael, This is a grandmother speaking (85.) You are one fantastic hero. when you do the UK thing and retire,please please don't let the glamour, and all that other stuff, influence you, i.e. get into drugs and stuff. Just be yourself and do a lot ot fantastic travel. Do good for humanity, but remember – do not be influenced by the "mod crowd," I am saddened by those famious people who have 'done it all' and got into drugs. Your body is clean..keep it that way. Have a great life and don't lose sight of the beauty of it as clean, exciting and good. Yours truly, Maxxine Kurtzbein, Grandmother, McMinnville Oregon. P.S. Creative Art is a a great source of expression and purity.... try it.

    May 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dandy

    Got Bong??

    May 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Edson

    Is there any chance of Mr. Phelps going to compete in Rio 2016? If so, that would be an honor to have such a sport phenomenon swimming in such a beautiful city. I'm Brazilian but live too far from Rio, however, if he is to be there I'll pay my tickets to attend.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Towanda

    I read the article and was scanning the comments. I enjoyed watching Micheal (and his Mom) last time and will do so again. I hope he wins at least the three medals. I rarely post a comment but it amazes me how one can read about a swimmer retiring and come up with some of the off the wall comments about anything else (war/politics/etc). Please – for a little while – let's just enjoy the best part of the summer – the Olympics.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Katie

    You people are ridiculous! I don't condone smoking weed, but Michael has worked VERY hard to be where he is and doesn't deserve the smack for making a silly mistake... (At least he admitted to it, unlike many of our countries "leaders"!) I doubt any of us show that amount of commitment to ANY one thing in our lives that Olympians show to their respective sport.

    June 30, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
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