Phelps on Night One of Olympic Trials: “Overwhelming…in a Very Positive Way”

by Annika Johnson 26

June 15th, 2021 News

Five-time Olympian and 23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is not competing this time around, however, he is an ever-present force at this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials.

He took part in a conference call Monday night. Media looked to him for his opinions on the meet so far and seeing young talent rise up in his events, picking his brain for his wealth of swimming knowledge and experience.

There was some fun too, though. While he has affirmed he is not planning a comeback, he was toying with the idea of hopping in for a time trial this weekend.

“Body-wise, I’m almost ready,” Phelps said. “Put me in there, let me do a time trial or something! This is all I know and all I’ve really understood.”

After Chase Kalisz won one of Phelps’ signature events, the 400 IM, Phelps was right there on deck to give him a hug. Phelps took home gold in this event at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. He broke the World Record first in 2002, taking down Tom Dolan‘s record, and continued to break his own record from then through the 2008 Olympics. His WR of 4:03.84 still stands.

Phelps has attended both prelims and finals the past two days, often with his wife Nicole and 5-year-old son Boomer. During the conference, Phelps explained how returning to Trials as a retired athlete has been for him. “It was overwhelming the first night, but in a very positive way,” he said.

“I  will say it got a lot of things fired inside of me … It was probably more emotional than I thought,” Phelps said.

He was excited to see Ledecky in her element in the 400 free final that night. “The greatest female swimmer of our time, ever,” he called Ledecky. “Being able to see her live in action tonight in her 400, bread and butter. Especially after Ariarne has been. swimming as well as she has … it’s electric.”

But he does not miss everything about competing. “It’s fun to not deal with those nerves and have to feel that pressure going up to the blocks,” he told reporters. “Going through the warmup and warm down, the lactic (acid) testing, the massages – I don’t miss that, not at all.”

Phelps had another interview last night with Rowdy Gaines and Tirico, post-finals, where they offered the idea of Phelps coming back on Tuesday to call the 200 fly, the event he won Olympic gold in 2004, 2008 and 2016 plus silver in 2012.

The 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials is the first Trials that Phelps has not competed at since 1996. He started his Olympic career at 15 years old, and officially retired after the 2016 Rio Olympics. He went from making finals in 2000, but missing the podium, to bringing home six gold medals in 2004. Four years later, after he’d taken down multiple Word Records, he won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Full Press Conference Video

If you’re being geo-locked from watching the video below, you can watch it here.

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Eric the eel > Phelps
7 months ago


Mr Piano
Reply to  Eric the eel > Phelps
7 months ago

Eric the eel is the GOAT

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
7 months ago

Scenes when MP does the 400 free time trial and drops a 3:39


He’ll time trial 200 free and go 1:49.23


Michael pls…for the brand.

7 months ago

Can we start a petition for Phelps to time trial 400 Free?

Reply to  Mustangswimdad
7 months ago

200 IM forever

7 months ago

The fact that he knows about Ariarne….. Phelps are you snooping around swimswam? Maybe it is also the swimmingstats instagram account.

Reply to  Khachaturian
7 months ago

It is in the general news…

7 months ago

Why does it say he hasn’t competed since the 1996 Olympic Trials? Wouldn’t he have been 11 years old at those trials? Should it say 2000?

Reply to  SwimFan
7 months ago

It’s the first he has NOT competed at since 1996.

Reply to  SwimFan
7 months ago

1996 was the last time he DIDN’T compete at Trials…

Age Of Winters
Reply to  SwimFan
7 months ago

Your homework…

  • Billy’s mother had five children. The first was named Lala, the second was named Lele, the third was named Lili, the fourth was named Lolo. What was the fifth child named?
  • If you were running a race and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?
Reply to  SwimFan
7 months ago

There are plenty of SwimSwam readers who aren’t native English speakers as well as younger native speakers who are still figuring out some of the intricacies of English.

“Since” can be used in a few different ways in English. Native speakers don’t realize how complicated the use of “since” can be: it can mean different things depending on how it’s used, including what verb tense is used. The most common use is the one SwimFan is thinking about: “He hasn’t competed since 1996,” meaning 1996 was his last competition. “This is the first Trials Phelps hasn’t competed at since 1996,” meaning 1996 was the last Trials at which he didn’t compete.

7 months ago

In a theoretical time trial scenario, there’s no chance Phelps is doing a 400free, but how funny would it be if the almost 36 year old, 5 years retired legend that never focused on the 400free went like 3:44?

The Original Tim
7 months ago

Yes, please have him commentate the 200 fly final! In fact, let’s just go ahead and have him commentate the semis, too. While we’re at it, since he’ll be in the booth, why not have him commentate the rest of tonight’s finals/semis…and Wednesday’s…and Thursday’s through Sunday’s…

Mr Piano
Reply to  The Original Tim
7 months ago

Have him replace rowdy full time lmao

Irish Ringer
7 months ago

hahaha, what’s this beef about