LONDON — U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, said Monday that he has accomplished all his goals and dreams in competitive swimming and now he wants to enjoy life.
Phelps now has three Olympic records - for winning the most overall medals with 22, for winning the most gold medals with 18, and for the most gold medals in a single Olympics with eight, which he won in Beijing in 2008.
When asked at a news conference in London which medal meant the most to him, Phelps said it was the gold medal he won in Athens for the 400 meter individual medley.
“That' so hard. I'll probably say that it's my first Olympic gold in 2004 in the 400 I.M," said Phelps. "You know being able to, you know, sort of train your whole life to achieve something and finally getting the gold medal and standing at the top of the podium listening to the national anthem play, it was one of the coolest moments of my life.”
Phelps said his goal in London was to break the all-time record for career Olympic medals but he was initially frustrated after finishing fourth in the 400 meter individual medley. However he regained his confidence after winning his first individual gold medal in the 200 meter medley.
At 27 years old, Phelps is now retired from competitive swimming. He said he intends to stay involved with his foundation that promotes water safety and encourages young people to swim. Beyond that, he said he just wants to have fun.
“And I don't have any fears about the sort of next stage of my life. This is something that is going to be enjoyable," he said. "I've been able to, I've swam for 20 years and I've been able to put my mind to something and achieve everything I ever wanted, and there are a lot of goals that I have, and I have the confidence now that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”
Phelps said right now he is a bit overwhelmed and needs time to come to terms with the significance of his Olympic achievements before moving on to the next stage of his life.