Michael Phelps says he could still swim competitively, but he just doesn't want to anymore

Scott Davis
michael phelps rio

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  • After winning six more medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Michael Phelps hung up his suit for good.
  • Phelps still stays in shape, but said he doesn't have the desire to swim competitively anymore.
  • Phelps is pleased with how his career ended and has moved onto other passion projects.


Michael Phelps fancies himself a "typical" guy now.

After concluding his decorated Olympic career at Rio 2016, Phelps says he has moved onto another chapter of his life, which includes several business projects, environmentalism, and raising a family.

Phelps stays active, too, working out, eating clean, trying to maintain a weight, and playing a little more golf than normal.

In fact, Phelps is not all that far removed from Olympic shape. Speaking to Business Insider, Phelps said he could still swim competitively if he wanted to — the problem is that he doesn't want to.

"A lot of people have asked if I'm coming back or coming out of retirement. I feel like I could swim again, but I just don’t want to," Phelps said. "I feel like it's time to start the second chapter of my life and kind of continuing things that I'm so passionate about."

Phelps said he felt good about ending his career on his terms, which included six medals at Rio 2016. 

"I have a feeling that 20 years down the road, I'll be able to look back and be able to be happy with how or when I hung my suit up. And I am right now."

US Swimming has several young stars that Phelps feels can carry the program going forward, namely Caeleb Dressel on the men's side and Katie Ledecky on the women's side. Phelps said he's always available to help the program or individual swimmers as they go through their careers.

In the meantime, however, Phelps is content. Even when Tokyo 2020 rolls around, Phelps said he won't feel the pull to return to the pool.

"No," Phelps said, laughing. "Not at all. Like I said, being able to look back, I think I always wanted to hang my suit up at the right time, what I thought was the right time, and for me, having the opportunity to come back and swim one more and have that Olympics be as good as it was, for me, that's all I could really ask for."

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