Michael Phelps participates in a press conference at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at Pauley Pavilion on March 8, 2016 in Westwood, Calif.
Michael Phelps was introduced to swimming through a water safety course as a kid, and the impression that was left by that first exposure has remained with him. He emphasized the importance of water safety when asked how long he can hold his breath underwater during a Facebook Live session Sunday.
“It’s not really a good thing to do,” he said. “Shallow water blackout occurs a lot, and a lot of people drown from that. I can’t stress enough how important water safety is. That’s how I started swimming. My mom wanted us to be in the water for water safety and I fell in love with the sport.
“May is Water Safety Month,” he added. “My foundation has taught more than 15,000 kids throughout the world to be water safe. Our goal is to open a swim school in every state in the country. We are about 13 states short. We want to do it by the Olympics. We’re trying to raise money to continue to open swim schools."
Phelps was also asked what advice he gives young swimmers.
“For me to be as successful as I’ve been, I’ve not held back to dreaming as big as I can,” he said. “Not putting a limit on something is something you should always think about doing, because that’s the only way you’re going to get full potential. And never give up. Everyone’s going to have struggles in their life that they are going to go through. Just being able to work through those things will make you stronger.”
He admitted that he will miss the thrill of competition when he retires, but he knows he will find other outlets for that energy.
“There are other things I can compete at,” he said. “I’m an extremely competitive person. I’ll be on the golf course, trying to improve there, and in business as well.”