Michael Phelps, fresh off rewatching many of his Olympic swims on NBCSN’s Olympic Games Week, joined OlympicTalk for a Q&A while promoting his new partnership with Silk, which is putting his face on soy milk cartons (and Aly Raisman on others) …
OlympicTalk: If this was 2007, and you were in a situation where you couldn’t get into North Baltimore Aquatic Club or other pools, what would you and Bob Bowman have done?
Phelps: We either would have already found a pool in someone’s backyard, or we would have found a way to build a pool. We would have found a solution. That’s something that would have been easy for us. You’ve heard it come out of my mouth hundreds of times: when you miss one day [of practice], it takes two days to get back
Here in Arizona, they opened up one of our country club pools for hour slots. I know Allison [Schmitt] is going in there and swimming a little bit. I’m somebody that was so big on feel. If I don’t have that feel I’m completely lost in the water.
Editor’s Note: For years as a swimmer, Phelps practiced every day. Including Christmas. Including his birthday (sometimes twice on his birthday).
OlympicTalk: Did you have that line of swim spas back then?
Phelps: Pretty sure we didn’t have it in 2008. But, that’s something that, yes, we would have done. We had one of those at Meadowbrook [the North Baltimore facility where he trained]. If that was the case, and it was back in 2008, I would have just gone to the pool, or I would have had that thing shipped to the backyard.
I think that’s what a lot of people are doing now. I’ve talked to a handful of ’em, and some of them are having difficulties, but I think a lot of them have been able to find people with pools in backyards that they have connections to, and they’ve been going four or five times a week.
Editor’s Note: Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas by Master Spas came out in 2010.
OlympicTalk: I’m sure you have access to watch any of your Olympic swims, but they just aired on NBCSN for all to see last week. Did you watch?
Phelps: Yes. A lot of them were really easy to watch, and a few of them were extremely difficult to watch. I ended up watching most of them with Bob, actually, which was interesting because we hadn’t really done that before.
The 2008 ones were really, really fun because, the two of us, our minds together, talking about breakouts and technique and all of it. I mean, everything in 2008 as a whole, those are some of my best races in my life. The 200m free and 400m IM, arguably, are two of the top three races of my career.
OlympicTalk: What was the other race in the top three?
Phelps: I don’t even know. Bob and I were talking about that, if we could come up with my best five races ever. There are a handful of them that are so close. We remember in 2007 when I broke a world record unshaved and unrested in Missouri, coming down from altitude. There’s so many different races. Actually, I do want to come up with that list because it would be interesting to go back down memory lane.
The 200m free [in Beijing], just everything about that race, I would say that’s my No. 1. Just from start to finish with kickouts, with turns, stroke, kick, body position, everything. That’s, without question, my best.
OlympicTalk: Tim Layden mentioned that you stack up pretty well against PGA Tour golfers in Peloton.
Phelps: I haven’t done any live rides with them. Rory [McIlroy] and Billy [Horschel] are unbelievable. They put up some nice numbers on there. I’d honestly like to know if they have any cycling background. We were joking back and forth inside the house about it. Those guys are pretty good. JT [Justin Thomas] is getting better. Bubba [Watson] is good. All those guys are great. Honestly, I think the coolest thing is just the interaction with those guys, but Rory and Billy are beating me down right now. I actually have taken a step away from that. I’m in the process of finishing my gym, and we got a bunch of the weights right before everything was basically shut down, so I’ve been slowly building my way back into the weight room.
OlympicTalk: Michael Jordan has been in the news a lot these past two weeks. I know that you have met him. What did you want to talk to him about?
Phelps: I remember the list being a mile long when I first him, and I also remember not being able to put together a sentence when I met him for the first time. Since then, we’ve had a few conversations and been together a couple of times. Watching the documentary, it’s been interesting for me just looking at somebody who’s done something in sports, pretty big in sports, and kind of piece it together. For instance, right now, it’s so fascinating that every single one of them were such a large piece of that puzzle. Rodman, Pippen, all of them together. I’m almost looking at it in a deeper way because it was a part of my life, too.
Also, his attitude. That’s been the coolest thing. He didn’t care. He was just going to go out there because he loved the game, and he was going to do whatever it took to win. That’s something I can relate to and understand.
I don’t even know what I’d ask him [today].
OlympicTalk: Has anyone else that you’ve met left you speechless or fumbling over your words like that?
Phelps: Not really. I think Tiger [Woods], that was just awesome because of Tiger and getting to know him a little bit more. Peyton [Manning] was the same way. We were like two kids in a candy store. He wanted to talk about swimming, and I wanted to talk about football.
I was trying to think of what other athletes I would want to meet. I got into F1 over the last year, so Lewis Hamilton and some of those F1 drivers. That’s a sport that I want to go and see and see how their mindset is. That’s fascinating for me.
OlympicTalk: I don’t think I’ve seen the story behind the name Maverick for your third boy.
Phelps: If we did go a B name, then we had to get one with some punch. [Our first two boys] Booms and Becks, they have just great nicknames. We wanted to keep MP, and [middle name] Nicolas is for [wife] Nicole. That was really all it was. We kept her name in there, and we kept MP. My name was something that I didn’t want to continue. Maverick was just a cool name. That was really it. It was something that we both gravitated towards. We each came up with five or 10 different names, and whatever one popped out the most is the one we went with.
OlympicTalk: Why did you partner with Silk Soymilk?
Phelps: Well, let’s be honest. I’m not the same person I was when I was training. I chose to change how I was eating. For me, adding and incorporating more plant-based proteins, Silk Soymilk and Silk Yogurts, honestly, I feel like it’s given me more energy. With three young kids — the youngest one is about to start crawling — so I need all the energy I can get to keep up with them. This is something that allows me to still get the nutrients that I need when I’m working out as much as I am. It’s also something that the boys like, and Nicole enjoys as well.
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