As he gets set to finish his Olympic diary, Michael Phelps continues to insist that this will be the final chapter.
The legendary swimmer has been keeping a journal in London in order to preserve his memories. There has been plenty to write about: Phelps set Olympic records last week with 18 career gold medals and 22 medals overall. Tuesday on TODAY, Phelps said that these games were his last.
“I’m done,’’ he told Matt Lauer. “I’m finished. I’m retired. I’m done. No more. The biggest thing is I can look back at my career and say I’ve done everything exactly the way I wanted to, and if you can say that, I’m happy.’’
Since his final London race Saturday, Phelps, 27, has put down his pen down to enjoy some free time. The trip back to the United States will give him time to record his thoughts.
“I kind of enjoy writing whenever I’m on the plane, so whenever I’m on the plane I’m sure I’ll go through a couple of pages and write down all the moments and experiences that I’ve had here in London,’’ Phelps said. “It’s just been incredible.’’
Phelps shared headlines with rival Ryan Lochte, who gave his own dream headline to Lauer before the Olympics began: “Ryan Lochte takes over.’’ The comment put another log in Phelps' fireplace.
“Everything fueled my fire,’’ he said. “Sort of just hearing, seeing what people were doing and saying, that really helped over the last few years. I wasn’t going to comment (on Lochte’s comment) back then, and I won’t comment now.’’
Phelps felt less pressure this time around than he did in 2008.
“It was a lot more relaxed than the other Olympics,’’ he said. “(Coach) Bob (Bowman) and I were very laid back, and we were ready to just have some fun, and that’s what we did. It was a cool week.’’
Bowman has coached Phelps throughout his three Olympics, and the two have developed a tight bond.
“When I was walking around the pool the last time, (Bowman) was on the deck, and that’s pretty much what he said,’’ Phelps said. “He said, ‘I’m very proud of you and I love you.’ My whole career wouldn’t be anywhere close to where it is without him. We worked great together, and we’ve been able to do everything we’ve ever wanted.’’
Phelps was 15 years old when he qualified for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney but did not medal in any races. He watched in awe as 15-year-old Katie Ledecky got the gold on Friday in the 800-meter freestyle.
“It did (remind me of Sydney), but she won a medal out of it,’’ Phelps said. “That was one of the coolest races that I was able to watch this whole Olympics. I was like, ‘Oh my God, she’s really going to do it.’’’