Michael Phelps on the Potential of an Olympic Comeback: “It would take five years”

On Sunday, May 19, Michael Phelps sat down with Kristen Welker for a “Meet the Moment” interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. Phelps discussed a myriad of topics ranging from the USOC “not doing everything they can” to put athletes first, Phelps’ mental health, and of course the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

It’s commonplace now that whenever Phelps discusses the Olympics, the 5-time Olympian is asked if he has the itch to get back in the pool himself. Phelps seemed more comfortable with where he’s at in life now, sharing “I think it’s a little different nowadays… I think I’m okay with everything that happened in the past.” Having won 23 Olympic gold medals and 28 overall Olympic medals, Phelps said “looking back, throughout my career there’s nothing else to do. And there’s no passion inside here that’s burning to get me out of bed to do it one more time.”

Knowing what it takes to prepare for an Olympic Games, however, Phelps did indulge in the hypothetical of if he *were* to comeback, and how long it would take him to prepare.

“I know at my old age – I say “old age;” I’ll be 39 this year – it’ll take five years for me to really get back. You know, I think the whole process of physically and mentally preparing for an Olympic Games is challenging. So, for me to be able to give myself the best chance to be able to perform how I would want to, it would take five years.”

This timeline does raise speculation because it essentially perfectly falls on the timeline of the next Olympic Games in 2028, coincidentally in Los Angeles. Throughout his illustrious career, Phelps never got the opportunity to compete at a home Olympics, and LA2028 would be the first (and likely only) opportunity to check that box.

However, when Welker doubled down and asked if Phelps was going to come off the sidelines out of retirement, the greatest swimmer of all-time was pretty clear.

“I’ve done it once. I’m not doing it. I’m not going down that way again.”

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30 days ago

Has Ryan Lochte officially retired? Any chance he is in the mix for 2024?

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
30 days ago

Never officially announced it, but many swimmers in his generation didn’t.

Hasn’t been tested by USADA since 2021, given a previous sanction that makes it likely that he’s retired (he would be targeted for a higher testing rate normally).

I think either way, no he’s not in any real mix. I’m sure he could muster up a 2:00 to make a semi-final at Trials, but wouldn’t imagine much more than that.

Jalen T
30 days ago

Why am I not surprised that the only time he talks about swimming is when it revolves around him and his records. Why didn’t he go support Bob Bowman at ASU this year????? I bet you NBC is going to give him free commentary just because of his name….

Reply to  Jalen T
29 days ago

Michael literally lives in Phoenix and comes by the pool sometimes?

30 days ago

The comments here are funny. He’s done. He’s said he’s done 100’s of times since 2016 (probably 1000’s). Michael- thank you for inspiring a full generation+ of swimmers, coaches and pretty much everyone on the planet! Enjoy your life. . . and I hope you’re laughing a little over everyone arguing the “what if” scenarios here.

The Screaming Viking!
30 days ago

He’s 39… hasn’t discovered yet that old man strength is an advantage. He’s still a puppy.

Reply to  The Screaming Viking!
30 days ago

Old man strength is a real thing. Old man endurance not quite as much…

Reply to  The Screaming Viking!
29 days ago

I read that a hasn’t divorced yet before doing a double take

30 days ago

2040 he might get a prelims swim for his boys’ relay team.

Steve Friederang
30 days ago

39 went so fast! The next 39 can be just as cool. You’re awesome Michael! Thanks for being real. You’re a great person who swims; not a great swimmer who happens to be a person. Keep finding yourself around every corner and knowing without a doubt, whatever God gives you, you will accomplish. It has and will always take a full team, a village of coaches and supporters. DaVinci, Einstein, Jobs, Musk, etc. are just like you — full of dreams, full of energy, full of doubts and in the public eye where there are naysayers. But know there are the rest of us — who cheer you no matter what you set out to do — from being a… Read more »

Reply to  Steve Friederang
30 days ago

You trying too hard

Petra Schneider
Reply to  Steve Friederang
30 days ago

DaVinci? Einstein? Come on, man.

Can’t kick can’t pull
Reply to  Petra Schneider
29 days ago

And musk 🤣🤣🤣

Kudzai Makova
30 days ago

Hypothetically if he began training today for LA2028, his best shot will be for the 4x100m and perhaps 4×200 if he can get into 1.45 shape by then; which is theoretically possible… Individual events at 44years… 50m freestyle?

Last edited 30 days ago by Kudzai Makova
Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
30 days ago

Phelps split a 47.1 in 2016

That’s not making the 2024 squad. And he’s not going to be faster. Should just admit he’s at best making finals at Olympic trials. Not shame at that at his age

hin qaiyang
Reply to  Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
30 days ago

I think it would… now i highly doubt he would get back to that but a 47 low split is still elite

Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
Reply to  hin qaiyang
30 days ago

Maybe you don’t celebrate the Fourth of July, but I do. As an American I have full faith in our current squad to set a WR

Also, above I typo’d and should have said 2028 squad. Have ‘24 on the brain

Reply to  Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
30 days ago

Of all current active US swimmers, only 3 have ever split faster than 47.1 – Dressel, Alexy, and Held, who make up #5, #13, and #16, respectively, in the 100 free all time.

You can make the argument that Guiliano has improved incredibly since last summer and then I suppose you have Curry/King/Kulow who have all split 47.2/47.3 within the past quad.

But I think anyone who is in form to split a 47.1 can definitely make any country’s 2024 squad. If they are fully in form at trials.

Just out of curiosity, are you really that confident that the US is going to have 6 men hit their taper correctly such that they are all in “better-than-47.1” form… Read more »

Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
Reply to  Jason
29 days ago

Hes not coming back for prelims

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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