If you want to catch a glimpse of Michael Phelps swimming competitively, you had better not blink.
Because in about three months’ time, when the London 2012 Olympic Games come to a close this summer, Phelps will be swimming his final laps.
Even though his mother and biggest supporter Debbie made a public plea on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday night for her son to continue training through the 2016 Games in Rio, he told Anderson Cooper that swimming in a fifth Olympic Games is not in the cards.
When Cooper asked Phelps if his mom might be able to persuade him to go to Rio, Phelps smiled and said, “We’ll go watch.”
Phelps, who will turn 27 on June 30, admitted during the “60 Minutes” interview that he struggled with depression and considered retiring numerous times following his history-making performances in Beijing.
“After Beijing,” Phelps told “60 Minutes” reporter Cooper, “there were countless times where I just … don’t want to do this anymore.”
His longtime coach, Bob Bowman, added that on a scale of 1 to 10 that Phelps’s training discipline ranked a 2 a year ago. Now, Bowman said Phelps has improved to a 9.
Phelps said he attributes the change to knowing London is so close and that he has pretty much regained his former swimming capabilities.
“I feel like my old self again,” Phelps said in the interview.
Here is a timeline of Phelps from his start as a swimmer to his soon-to-be retirement in London:
Michael Fred Phelps is born in Baltimore
At the age of 7, Phelps starts swimming, mainly because his older sisters, Whitney and Hilary, were swimming
At 10, Phelps held a national record for his age group and began training with Bob Bowman
Phelps competes in his first Olympic Games in Sydney, and at 15 is the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Team. He finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly
March 30, 2001
Phelps broke the world record in the 200 fly, becoming the youngest man to break a world record at 15 years, 9 months. He was clocked at 1:54.92 in Austin, Texas
July 24, 2001
Phelps broke his own world record and won his first world championship gold medal in the 200 fly with a time of 1:54.58 in Fukuoka, Japan
Oct. 4, 2001
Phelps turns professional and signs his first individual endorsement deal
Phelps graduated from Towson High School
Phelps won four gold medals, two silver medals and broke five world records at the world championships in Barcelona
Phelps tries to best Mark Spitz’s record of winning seven gold medals at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games but comes up a bit short, claiming six gold medals and two bronze
Phelps wins five gold medals and a silver at the world championships in Montreal
Phelps claims seven gold medals at the world championships in Melbourne
Swimming took center stage during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as Phelps broke Spitz’s record by winning eight gold medals and do so in remarkable fashion. Phelps kicked off his Games with a victory in the 400 individual medley. Then in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay, Jason Lezak anchored the United States and rallied with a come-from-behind swim to win gold medal No. 2 for Phelps. Phelps then won the 200 free and followed that up with a victory in his signature event, the 200 fly even though his goggles filled with water. Team USA won the 4 x 200 free relay less than a half an hour later
Phelps tied Spitz by winning a seventh gold medal, beating Serbia’s Milorad Cavic by .01 of a second in the 100 fly. Phelps and his U.S. teammates won the 4 x 100 to secure his eighth Olympic gold medal
Phelps trimmed his event lineup but still swam to the top in five races. At the world championships in Rome, he claimed five gold medals and earned a silver medal. These world championships were overshadowed by the use of many swimmers sporting the polyurethane swimsuits, which are no longer legal
Phelps began to feel more pressure in the pool from an American teammate, Ryan Lochte. At these world championships in Shanghai, Phelps won four gold medals but Lochte beat Phelps in the 200 IM in world-record time. Lochte also beat Phelps in the 200 free
Announces on "60 Minutes" that London will be his final Olympic Games