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Update on Swimmer Michael Phelps as He Prepares for Rio

Studio shot of a handsome swimmer holding his goggles

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It is hard to say the name Michael Phelps without thinking of the words “Olympic swimmer.” Even Michael Phelps had trouble defining himself as someone other than a swimmer.  That was one of the battles Phelps admits he faced after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After winning eight gold medals, Phelps found himself hating the sport, hating the life he had created for himself, and most of all, hating himself. He disclosed in a candid interview that he struggled with finding the drive to live another day at times.

We have covered Phelps for quite a few years, and the athlete has had quite his share of ups and downs. He has faced two DUIS and dealt with media scrutiny over a photograph that was released of him smoking marijuana. His second DUI in 2014 was a huge wake-up call for Phelps.  He decided after the incident to check himself into a rehab in Arizona.

“I sent myself down a downward spiral,” he told Matt Lauer. “I think it was more of, of a sign than anything else, that I had to get something under control, whatever it was.”

Phelps spent 45 days in rehab which he said was a transformative experience.  He admitted to Lauer that he flat out started to hate swimming right before the Beijing Olympics.  It was pressure from the public eye that forced him to continue. He skipped practice after practice and fought heavily with his swimming coach. Still, despite it all, Phelps managed to destroy world records and win eight gold medals at the Olympics that year.

When talking about his second DUI arrest in 2014, Phelps says he believes “everything happened for a reason.” That is a mantra often repeated in the 12-step community; however Phelps is not sure if he would consider himself to be an alcoholic.

“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I know I have probably moments where I have gone off the deep end where I shouldn’t. I would say binged, more than anything else.

Phelps first DUI was in 2004 only a few months after winning eight Olympic medals in Athens, Greece. He returned in 2008 with very little desire to do the sport anymore, but he forced himself regardless.

“I forced myself to do something that I really didn’t want to do anymore. I was in a really dark place, not wanting to be alive anymore,” he said.

In the London Olympic 2012, Phelps won four gold medals and two bronze. After London, Phelps retired from swimming. Now, Phelps is back and ready to compete in Rio. Phelps may become the oldest swimmer to win an Olympic medal upon his return.

Besides swimming, Phelps has had some happy moments amidst the chaos. He recently became engaged to his long on/of again girlfriend Nicole Johnson. Phelps and Johnson met in 2007, a few years before Johnson becoming Miss California USA 2010. They rekindled their relationship in late 2014, and now the couple announced they are having a baby boy! The baby is expected to be born around July, just in time for the Olympics.

Phelps has been on quite the journey from his first Olympics in 2004, but just like in the water, Phelps shows perseverance in his life outside of the pool. The fact that he is training for yet another Olympics, with little to prove, shows how determined Phelps can be. Phelps last Olympics will be a message to all that challenges do not have to prevent us from making major accomplishments and ultimately finding ourselves.

Will you be watching the Rio Olympics this year? If so, let’s see how Phelps can defeat the naysayers and accomplish big this year. Addiction is a disease and understanding your strengths and weaknesses is a major step in making progress. Learn what is holding you back from recovery. Get help today. 

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