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AUGUST 4, 2016

Michael Phelps on his London Olympics performance: “I basically did that off of pure talent. Very, very minimal work. The last year leading into London I worked pretty hard, but the other three years I just kind of joked around. I mean, I would miss a week or two weeks here or there, and I just wouldn’t care. So I think that was the bottom of everything else I had left in reserve. And it was close to being good. I almost won the 200 fly with no training. So this time around, I wanted to do it the right way, and that was the only way that I was going to come back.”

Bob Costas
: “You’ve said that without swimming, your sense of yourself, your identity, was lost, and you had no real direction. And this led to some dark places, right?”

Michael Phelps: “Oh my gosh. I mean, still, remember the days locked up in my room, not wanting to talk to anybody, not wanting to see anybody. Really not wanting to live. I was on a downward spiral and I was on the express elevator to the bottom floor, wherever that might be. And I found it.”


Michael Phelps: “For me, I think I had to reach my absolute rock bottom in order for me to kind of get a wake-up call. And that was it. Those mornings waking up, not wanting to be alive…”

Bob Costas: “Did you actually contemplate suicide? I guess there’s a difference between not wanting to be alive and thinking, ‘I’ll actually end it.’”

Michael Phelps: “There were thoughts where I was like, ‘How would I do it?’ But I knew I never could, because I know it would hurt so many people, me included. The thoughts were there and they were there really heavy. And I kind of just started making some progress, and then I just decided that something had to change.”

Bob Costas: “So you go to a rehab center, and you’re in the presence of other people battling addiction problems. On the other hand, they’re not oblivious – ‘Hey, that’s Michael Phelps’ – but eventually that’s got to go away, because you’re all in the same boat. How does that work?”

Michael Phelps: “I’ll never forget the night we were there watching football. Something went across the bottom (of the screen), like I was suspended. And they showed me swimming, and they all just turned and looked at me, and I was like, ‘Well, cat’s out of the bag. So yup, I’m here, it’s me.’ (laughing)”

Bob Costas: (laughing) “Who did they think it was?”

Michael Phelps: “It was wild. That was kind of the first real, ‘Oh, OK, that is him.’ After that, it was really just…they opened up, because like you said, we’re all in there trying to tackle something that’s holding us back, so to speak.”

Bob Costas: “What’s the most important thing you learned?”

Michael Phelps: “I went through this process where we tried to connect with our inner child, and I had so many vivid memories of me at the age of seven, eight, nine. It was kind of cool to realize that the kid is still going to come out in this, and that’s who we really are. I remember, I went through a box of tissues that day, just pouring emotions out. Once we brought all of that stuff out, I literally felt like a new person.”

Bob Costas: (Voiceover) “Phelps says he hasn’t consumed alcohol since Oct. 4, 2014. Since leaving rehab, he’s gotten engaged and he’s had a son. And after emerging from that dark time in his life, he says he’s now as happy as he’s ever been.”

Michael Phelps: “The life that I live now is a dream come true. I’m able to do what I love in the pool and out of the pool. I have a beautiful baby boy, a gorgeous fiancé, a great family, I’m closer to the people who like me and love me for me than I ever have been in my life – and I would never change that. I truly am living a dream come true.”