Michael Phelps: “Saving life is more important than getting a medal”

With Michael Phelps - the strongest swimmer in history, 23-time Olympic champion, multiple world record holder and ambassador of

Under Armor

- we met in the US city of Baltimore at the Human Performance Summit. The Challenger found out how an athlete managed to achieve outstanding results in swimming, how he managed to cope with a severe depression, which almost cost him his life, and how his values ​​changed after leaving professional sports.

- To succeed in sports, you need a plan. Achieving the ultimate goal is always the result of a long training process. This was told to me by Bob (from 10 years old Michael Phelps trained under the direction of Bob Bowman.

- Approx. Ed. ), and this has been confirmed many times during my career. When I was eleven, Bob said that I could participate in the Olympics. And all subsequent years he believed in me.

I do not know how my life would have turned if not for his support.

Other athletes rested on Sundays, and I spent every day in the pool. I forgot what “I can’t”, “tired”, “it hurts me”. And so seven days a week, month after month ..

. five years. No Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthday celebrations. It was not just training - I seemed to invest in a bank in order to get a result one day.

If you want to do that what no one has ever done, will have to work differently than everyone else.

I wanted to win, I had to win . And you know, I like to stand on a pedestal, listen to my country's anthem and understand: everyone who doubted me was mistaken.

Photo: Under Armor

Work continued outside the pool: recovery sessions, nutrition plan (for Michael Phelps, nutritionists developed a special diet for 12,000 kcal per day. - Note ed. ), a schedule of sleep and rest, which I had to strictly follow.

In order to be able to achieve what you have planned, you need to find the perfect equation in which there will be competition, recovery and life.

Rest and recovery play a huge role. They gave me massages, put jars ...

If your body is a highly efficient racing car and you want to develop maximum speed every time, you will treat it carefully and choose the appropriate fuel. Same thing with the body. If my body is Ferrari, it needs the best nutrients, full recovery. Without this, success is unthinkable.

Photo: shutterstock.


There is nothing in swimming difficult - it's not rocket science! The main thing is to master the technique and constantly improve it. To defeat a strong swimmer, you need to learn how to work with legs as well as footballers do. The same applies to the work of the hands - improve the technique whenever you have time, and you will feel more confident in the pool, improve the results. So what is the problem then? And the fact that no one wants to work on the little things.

But the difference between good and outstanding athletes is precisely in the fact that the latter find the strength to do those things that they sometimes do not want to do.

Do you like to get out of bed every morning? Unlikely. Everyone has days when he doesn’t want to crawl out from under the covers. But just then you need to force yourself to continue to work. I had days when in the morning I did not want to go to training. I was tired, sometimes I felt bad.

When I knew that I could not give everything 100%, I still went to study. And the 10% that I was able to master in training, allowed me to continue to move forward, and not to stand still.

If you do at least 10%, 20% or 50%, you are approaching the goal. And if you refuse small, then you miss out on opportunities, which may no longer be .

Photo: Under Armor

I am sure: the process is more important than the result.

And if you do everything right, get what you deserve. Talent, of course, plays a big role, but more important is hard work. You can only rely on talent until a certain point. To realize your potential, you must be able to work.

More than anything, I love the ascent process - when you climb to the top of the mountain, and you are alone there, upstairs.

This is my favorite part of the journey, and staying on top is the hardest thing.

As a child, the trainer taught forget about everything outside during training. I was focused on swimming, my emotions faded into the background. And so - until 2014. Then I reached the limit and realized that I did not want to stay alive (at that time Michael Phelps, the absolute record holder in the history of the Olympic Games in the number of medals, experienced a severe depression.

- Approx. Ed. .).

I have come a long way, first of all, the inner one.

I decided to open up and talk about my psychological difficulties, and this allowed me to take the burden off my shoulders and finally be myself. I think the world first saw what I really am. It took me a lot of strength to go this way. It is not easy to look at what is causing enormous mental pain, to talk about those things about which it is customary to remain silent. But this is the best I could do then.

I found strength in myself to fall in love with the person whom I saw in the mirror and which I had not always liked before. For a long time I looked at myself only as a swimmer. And now, finally, he was able to see a person in himself.

Photo: Under Armor

I never wanted to say about my career: what if ..

. Therefore, in 2016 I returned to professional sports. I felt that I had an unfinished business - goals that I still want to achieve. I wanted to give myself another opportunity to finish the job, to enjoy the process (in 2016, at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Michael Phelps won five gold medals, after which he announced the end of his sports career. - Note Ed.


When I think that I will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics this year, I feel a strange sensation, as if something was missing in my life. For the past four years I have been farther from sports than ever. I had five amazing Olympics, and now what I do outside the pool means so much to me ..


You know, I realized that saving life is more important than winning a medal.

Photo: shutterstock. com

What I'm doing now ( Michael Phelps oversees the psychological support service. - Ed.

), inspires me - I can see the Olympics from the side and can help athletes cope with the problems that plague them that interfere with their career.

I believe that everything that we doing, this is an attempt to change the world for the better. I am trying to promote a healthy, active and harmonious lifestyle. This is exactly what we do with Under Armor.

Photo: Under Armor

And although now I have left sports, I train every day - without it I can.

I go to the gym every day. So now I’ll go there when we finish talking. I train about ten hours a week. Engaged in elliptical and exercise bikes, participate in bike rides and swim, of course. Only now swimming is a therapy for me, this is a time when I am absolutely calm and can think over important things.

The head of life in which there was a professional sport is closed to me. I hope that the next one will be even more interesting. Over the past few years, I spent more time on land than ever (before that in my life I had done more strokes in the pool than steps on the ground). Now I am learning to live on this planet, going through the same things that my children are going through now. I have been focusing on swimming for so long .

.. And now I am learning life's lessons.

Everyone has difficulties in life, at these moments it is important not to stop learning, not to be afraid to ask for help, to hear yourself and to live through what you are destined to go through. Everything you want to achieve is already here.

The only way to get what you want is through overcoming.

Help with translation: Vasily Lvov



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