At a press conference less than 24 hours after what he swears is the last swimming race of his career (in which he helped the USA 4 x 100 medley team win gold, naturally), Michael Phelps just couldn’t keep talking about swimming. In word and in deed, he says, he is ready to move on to his next goal: being a great dad to his 3-month-old son, Boomer.
Photo: Michael Phelps on Instagram
“Being apart from him for the last three weeks, four weeks from when I saw him last, he’s grown so much,” Phelps said. “I changed a diaper last night. He was just sitting there looking at me, smiling the whole time. It brought a tear to my eye, just because he hasn’t seen me in a while and it was so cool to see him smiling back at me and laughing and giggling.”
Phelps ditched his digs in the athlete’s village after his final race, choosing to join fiancé Nicole Johnson and Boomer instead.
When he got there, Boomer was asleep, but that didn’t stop Phelps from soaking up some quality time.
“I picked him up after I was done and just held him,” Phelps said. “That’s something I’m really, really looking forward to, just watching him grow up.”
Phelps’ own father was largely absent from his life after his parents divorced when he was young. The 31-year-old clearly has his mind set on making sure history does not repeat itself there.
“That’s number one for me,” Phelps said. “I want to be there every step of the way. I don’t want to miss a thing. I’ve had so many people say to me, ‘You blink an eye, it’s over.’ They grow up so fast. Next thing you know, they’re going off to college. I don’t want to miss anything.”
Happily, Phelps did reconcile with his father two years ago, after a 2nd DUI arrest and a six-week stint of inpatient therapy turned his life around and set him on the path to “living a life that is dream come true” as he told Bob Costas in an NBC Sports Olympic profile.
That dream come true will still include swimming, but not competitively. Phelps says he plans to swim for exercise and to work with his foundation to teach more children to swim and continue to make the sport more popular in the U.S. and around the world.
But mostly, you’ll probably find him at home in Phoenix with Nicole and Boomer—and NOT at post-race press conferences.
“You guys won’t see me at one of these things for a long time,” he told reporters as he exited. “See you later.”
Thanks for the memories, Michael Phelps! We look forward to seeing you make some new ones with your family!