After winning six medals in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, and a total of 23 gold medals throughout his entire Olympic career, Michael Phelps was interviewed by Today show host Matt Lauer to discuss what the end of the Olympics will mean for Phelps going forward.
“It’s been pretty awesome the last couple days, just being able to spend some time with Boomer and the family,” Phelps told Lauer. “It’s the best way to finish.”
Lauer reminded Phelps of a similar conversation, after the 2012 Olympic games, when Phelps said he planned to retire.
“Four years ago, almost to the day, we sat in London,” Lauer said, “and you said to me, when I asked you if you’re going to keep swimming, ‘Done, done, done.’”
Phelps chuckled, reiterating his old response. “You’re going to get the same response here: Done, done, done,” he said. “And this time I mean it.”
Phelps had a dark and difficult few years after the 2012 Olympics.
After a DUI in September 2014, Phelps said he had lost all purpose in life. “I thought the world would just be better off without me,” Phelps told ESPN. “I figured that was the best thing to do – just end my life.”
“I wanted to come back and finish my career how I wanted — and this was the cherry on top of the cake that I wanted,” Phelps told Lauer.
After being convinced that this is the end for his swimming career, Lauer asked Phelps about his personal plans and goals.
“What do you want to do as a 31-year-old leaving swimming behind you with a long life ahead of you?” Lauer asked.
“This is the part of my life where I get to start this whole new chapter,” Phelps responded. “It’s continuing to build a family with Nicole.”
Phelps said he also ants to do what he can to change the sport of swimming, such as seeing a decline in the rate of drowning incidents by teaching children to swim.
“We’ve been able to teach thousands of kids, but I want the numbers higher,” Phelps said.
Lauer finished the interview, asking Phelps if he believes the future of swimming for Team USA is in good hands with Katie Ledecky, who came away from the Olympics with 4 gold medals and one silver medal.
Phelps assured Lauer that swimming is in “great shape,” not only with Ledecky, but with the current Olympic swim team.