With his competitive career in the rearview mirror, 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps is taking on a new role at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials: a spectator. After competing in five Olympic Games, Phelps has officially traded in his wetsuit for a seat in the stands.
While taking in the first Olympic Trials since his retirement, Phelps is simultaneously sentimental, excited, and torn. Phelps has known since 2016 that he would not be training to compete for the Tokyo Games. For Phelps, life outside of the pool has consisted of family time with his wife, Nicole Johnson, and their three sons, Boomer, Maverick, and Beckett.
“I brought Boomer on the deck earlier, before the session started last night and I felt overwhelmed by emotions," he told Mike Tirico and Rowdy Gaines on Monday night's NBC broadcast. "I still think it’s hard to put into words. This has been a big part of my life for a long time, so me not being in the pool, I kind of like it, but it feels weird. It feels odd."
As for his latest job as full-time family man, Phelps has nothing but positive things to report.
“It’s incredible, it really is, being able to kind of turn the page and start this next chapter of my life," Phelps said. "I feel everything that we’re doing outside of the pool with the mental health world is so much bigger than anything I’ve ever done in the pool. But my family, being able to spend time at home with them this last year, everything combined with what I’ve gone through personally over the past year, just being with them has been a dream.”
The 35-year-old is vocal about his struggles with mental health and has become an advocate for mental health awareness since his retirement.