Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Michael Phelps revealed comeback to family with 3 a.m. voicemail

Michael Phelps, Hilary Phelps

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 29: Michael Phelps of the United States talks to sister Hilary after the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle during Day Fourteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 29, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Hilary Phelps said her brother, Michael, revealed his comeback to the family via a 3 a.m. voicemail on April 15, 2013, she said while in India this week, according to the Times of India.

“The message said, ‘Pack your bags we are going on a trip,’” Hilary said, according to the newspaper, adding that it came after Michael had just bought a house in Mexico and that she still has the recording. “Just when we thought this was finally going to be the family vacation we had never taken, he added, ‘One more time. I’m going for Rio.’”

The news likely pleased mother Debbie, who had texted her son after Rio was awarded the 2016 Olympics on Oct. 2, 2009, pleading with Michael to go back on his planned 2012 retirement to try for a fifth Olympics.

The 22-time Olympic medalist kept his word in retiring after London 2012, but he then came out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April 2014.

Phelps has also spoken about revealing his comeback to longtime coach Bob Bowman in 2012 or 2013.

“It was like 9:30, 10 o’clock at night one day, and I called [Bowman],” Phelps said at the Doha Goals Forum in July. “I was like, ‘What do you think about me coming back?’ He was like, ‘Call me in the morning.’ So I called him the next morning, and he knew that I was for real. I got back to Baltimore, and we had a meeting, and he’s like, we’re going to do this the right way.”

Phelps publicly revealed his comeback on Nov. 14, 2013, after U.S. Anti-Doping Agency statistics showed he had re-entered a drug testing pool mandatory for competition. Bowman said Phelps had re-entered the drug testing pool between April and June 2013.

“If I decide to keep going and swim again, then I’ll compete,” Phelps told The Associated Press then. “If I don’t,” he added, letting out a big laugh, “I guess I’ll re-retire. Just don’t compare me to Brett Favre.”

Phelps has excelled in his comeback so far as the only U.S. man to post a world-leading time in an Olympic event in 2014 and 2015.

This year, he came back from a suspension as punishment following a 2013 DUI arrest to clock the world’s fastest 100m and 200m butterflies since 2009.

MORE MICHAEL PHELPS: Phelps’ potential record chases at Rio Olympics

Follow @nzaccardi