Michael Phelps on Historical Comeback Year After Rehab Stint: 'I Look in the Mirror and I Love Who I See'
By Raphael Chestang
Michael Phelps is opening up about having his best year ever and how much he's grown after his tumultuous 2014 left many people doubting his proposed comeback.
"I'm different than I was two years ago. I'm way different than I was four years ago at the last Olympics," Phelps tells Adweek magazine. "Being able to make that step and grow from things I've gone through, and be the real me -- I look in the mirror, and I love who I see. That was a huge step for me."
The swimmer retired in 2012 only to propose a comeback in April 2014, but just five months later, he was arrested for DUI for the second time in 10 years. This led to a stint in rehab. With the odds against him, Phelps pressed on and qualified for the Rio Olympics.
His performance at the 2016 Summer Games earned him five gold medals and brought him his 28th medal overall, making him the most decorated Olympian in history -- a feat made even more incredible considering his comeback to the sport of swimming at 31.
"It's been a crazy year, an honestly ridiculous year, one of the greatest years of my life," he says. "I don't know when everything will settle down, but it's been awesome. Coming back, going through some ups and downs away from the pool, and being able to finish my career on my terms -- that's all I wanted."
Phelps became the first American male swimmer and second swimmer overall, after Dara Torres, to qualify for a fifth Olympics. He was even chosen as the American flag bearer at the opening ceremony as his wife, Nicole, and son Boomer looked on.
Phelps' competitive nature has extended to the business world with his swimwear brand, MP. According to its website, the brand "creates innovative, technologically advanced, performance-enhancing swim products driven by the ultimate desire to improve the sport of swimming."
"I believe I have the best swimsuit in the world, and hopefully other people agree with me," Phelps says. "Would I like to be the best swimming brand in the world? Of course. I never want to be second."
And it looks like the rest of the swimming world has taken notice.
"We're at a point where we can almost pick a dream team of who I want in my suits, so that's the next step," he shares. "This is all such a new journey for me, but it's so exciting because I've never done it. I'm having fun, and doing what I love."