The World Says “Thank You” to Michael Phelps

Valeu, Phelps!

This is the message, Portuguese for “Thank You, Phelps,” that the world is sending to American swimmer Michael Phelps upon his retirement from competitive swimming – which he has declared and reaffirmed is now.

Unlike his last retirement, after the 2012 Olympics, Phelps seems settled. In 2012, even though he won 4 gold medals, it was a struggle. It was clear he wasn’t fully engaged in swimming, he wasn’t all that interested in what he was doing. The stories were all about having trouble with practice attendance; about clashes with his longtime coach Bob Bowman; about how he wanted to become a sprinter but his coach wanted him to stay true to his core.

This time, though, with a not entirely-indifferent 5 gold medals (the difference being a relay sweep in Rio), the mood and tone was different. Phelps was again the best in the world, he was happy with his swimming and with his life. He was excising his demons with gambling and alcohol that led to his arrest in 2014. He was starting a family and had recently welcomed his first child, Boomer, into his life.

He was more engaging with his fans and with the media. This time it feels right. Rio was a proper sendoff for Phelps, with stories about how incredible his success was in overcoming struggles, not stories about how incredible it was that he had so many struggles and could still succeed.

Phelps will retire as the most decorated Olympian of all time with 13 individual gold medals, 23 Olympic gold medals, and 28 total Olympic medals. While many, including his peer Ryan Lochte, say they don’t believe he’s done, if this is the end, Phelps will now retire on his terms and go out the way he wanted.

In the above video, fans from around the world thank Phelps for the thrills he’s given in the pool since his first Olympics in Sydney in the year 2000.

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See you in Japan.


He makes so much money in the Olympic years that I could easily see him do at least the free relays which would be easy for him to make at trials


Why? in 4 years he’ll be 35. He’s accomplished everything. What is left to be done? Fans need to let go.


Doesn’t matter about winning medals. But having fun. He said he was very happy swimming in training. Why stop?

A portuguese person

Valeu means worth in Portuguese. Obrigado means thank you….. :S The statement can mean that he is of value. Take that how you will.

masters swimmer

The following comments are made with the utmost respect to MP and hope they will be seen that way. I’m a huge fan. With that said, I sense he may be ready for retirement this time. Consider the following point: A while back Bowman said how it was their goal to get some best times as he hadn’t done that for years; and Phelps talked about the possibility of doing things he hadn’t done before. That just didn’t work out. Yes he had an amazing meet with lots of gold medals. However, even though he crushed the 200IM by almost 2 seconds, he was still a significant ways off the WR. Also, look at the 100 Fly. It was Schooling… Read more »


I think we’ll see him at masters meets.


He said no to masters in the Facebook live
video he did yesterday. I’d love to see him at some, though! I’d definitely swim more meets if there was a chance I’d get to meet him. 😉

masters swimmer

Well, moving over to Aquasphere as a sponsor was a brilliant move in my opinion. All the industry growth will be with aging masters swimmers (like me). So it was very smart for MP to align himself with a brand that already has a big foothold with masters swimmers. Think about it: how many people are going to drop huge $s for some fancy tech suit other than parents of age group swimmers? MP is now with a economical and quality brand. I hope he uses his Aquasphere platform to make a big push to get people of all ages, especially older adults, to try out swimming and maybe join a masters club/team. We need to grow the sport and… Read more »


Good post. His body might have hit a limit or maybe he just didn’t rest enough with all that hard training the last year and half with a “old body” so he wasn’t able to drop time from 2015 Summer nationals and he actually added more time in some of those events. So maybe body his limit or maybe he didn’t rest enough. We don’t know and maybe him and bob don’t know. Either way he went out this time with 5 golds and one silver so definitely a pretty good exit. And very sad to see him go but it’s good to know he’s in a better place personal and mentality and wish him the best of luck whether… Read more »


Had he swam the 200 IM fresh, it’s more than possible he could have smashed the WR. That 200 fly/free double clearly took a physical tole on him. If I were Phelps that would be my lingering “what if” thought. His 200 fly would have also been much faster with better turns, easily 1:52 mid-low territory.

It speaks volumes about Phelps’ dominance in how he has the most consistently poor turns in elite swimming, and yet he still manages to out touch his rivals when it matters most… Unless your name is Schooling.


I agree. I first think they Probably didn’t rest enough. But then I think also both the free relays took toll on him. But hey they still got gold. Not sure why his turns have been iffy here and there since comeback but if he hit his turns better in 200 fly final then I think def 152 mid. Still got gold. He definitely wanted that WR 200IM. He was bummed right after the race with his facial expression and he was bummed in the pool side post race interview about no WR. With more rest before Rio then maybe would have got it. Or maybe with no relays he would have been fresher and got it. Maybe those things… Read more »


He has a child now and says he wants more and has said he wants to spend a lot of time with them and he has the money to do it. I’m sure he will still have sponsor commitments, his swim schools and dipping his toe into coaching at ASU. As far as fatherhood, I don’t think he wants to be that father in that old Harry Chapin song “Cat’s in the Cradle”, especially considering his issues with his own dad.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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