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Becoming Michael Phelps

Tony talks to the greatest Olympian of all time about the art of the comeback, what it means to win, and the power of pushing through

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Having won 28 medals, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history. He has trained and competed at the highest levels of elite swimming, has broken world records, and forged a lifelong career unrivaled by any other. Even after he announced his retirement in 2012, he made a valiant comeback in 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where he won five more gold medals to bring him up to a remarkable 23 first-place finishes.

You are about to hear from this legendary athlete, as he and Tony have a one-on-one interview at Tony’s private home, as part of a small event held for his Platinum Partners. You’ll hear Michael Phelps, who shares with the groups how he came to dominate the sport of swimming – and the setbacks he faced along the way. You’ll also hear a little bit from snowboarder Shaun White who was also there towards the end. (You can hear Shaun’s full interview right here on the podcast).

Michael has trained and competed in the swimming pool for the vast majority of his life. He made his Olympic debut at just 15 years old, and he spent the next 16 years mastering the sport through hard work and determination, intense focus, and an unwavering trust in his long-time coach, Bob Bowman. Touted as one of the greatest coach-athlete partnerships in the history of swimming, Michael opens up to Tony about his unbreakable relationship with Bob – who not only molded him into at supreme athlete, but who also played an essential role in his emotional upbringing.

But not everything for Michael Phelps has been paved with gold, and his rise to the top was not without a series of well-publicized stumbles. In this interview, he opens up about his own struggle with depression, which affects over 40 million people in the U.S., and takes a particular toll on Olympic athletes who are on a biochemical high during the games, and afterwards, return home feeling empty and directionless.

Now, Michael’s life is far different from what it once was. He’s a husband and father of two boys. He’s more patient. He spends time writing. He’s rekindling a relationship with his father. He’s not planning on another Olympic comeback – instead, he’s using his platform to help save lives through the Michael Phelps Foundation and his commitment to water safety and mental health programs and awareness. And as he shares with Tony, to him, that’s a comeback that’s bigger than winning an Olympic gold medal.

Michael Phelps Interview

Michael Phelps Interview Show Notes

[01:13] Episode introduction
[03:55] Going through the ringer
[04:28] How Michael is different today
[05:04] Showing the world the new Michael Phelps
[05:30] Impact of a second child
[06:02] The tests of parenthood
[06:27] Michael’s wife’s unwavering support
[07:04] Growing together as a couple
[07:30] Michael growing up
[07:56] When Michael met Coach Bob Bowman
[08:31] The influence of Michael’s sister
[09:00] The trust in Bob Bowman
[09:25] Bob steps in as a father
[10:04] Growing together with Bob
[10:34] Butting heads with Bob
[11:04] Michaels training regimen
[11:28] Stories from the Olympic Training Center
[12:04] Why Michael never took a day off
[12:28] Shaun White’s training
[12:54] Where Michaels drive came from
[13:35] Goal to break a world record
[14:00] First world record and world championship
[14:35] Relationship with Ian Thorpe
[15:10] Ian Thorpe’s challenge to Michael
[15:48] Winning the race by 1/100th of a second
[16:21] There goes a gold medal
[16:59] Visualizing the win
[17:30] The small things that make a massive difference
[18:02] The 2012 downfall
[18:31] After the 2008 Olympics
[19:25] The most influential race of Michael’s career
[20:16] The decision to come back from retirement
[20:50] Michael’s struggle with depression
[21:18] The root of Michael’s depression
[21:45] Feeling lost after the Olympics
[22:04] Shaun White’s depression after Olympics
[22:37] Why Olympic athletes go through depression
[23:05] Decision to ask for help
[23:26] Pushing through depression
[23:53] What Michael learned at The Meadows
[24:36] Rekindling the relationship with his Dad
[25:28] The biggest misperception about his father
[26:00] Painful memories from his past
[26:30] The decision to communicate
[27:00] Michael’s relationship with his father today
[27:33] How Michael is similar to his father
[28:05] The biggest thing Michael learned from Bob Bowman
[28:31] Removing the word “can’t”
[29:29] What stands out most about his career
[30:10] Turning the page
[30:28] Reflections on Rio
[31:01] Nothing else left to accomplish
[31:23] Transition into the real world
[32:00] Importance of living in the moment
[32:37] Impact of reading The Power of Now
[33:16] The achiever’s curse
[34:00] Finding fulfillment after achievement
[34:24] Tony’s goals throughout his life
[35:18] What the next 10 years look like
[35:47] Life outside of the pool
[36:14] Commitment to saving lives
[37:00] Water safety initiatives
[37:40] What Michael loves today
[38:26] Tony’s invitation
[38:50] Tony’s thank you

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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