Michael Phelps Qualifying For His 5th Olympics Is Really Cool Even Though Swimming Isn’t A Sport
Baltimore Sun — Michael Phelps held five fingers high after his hand hit the wall, a sure sign he realized he’d done something much larger than win another race.
With his victory in the 200-meter butterfly on Wednesday evening, Phelps became the first American male swimmer to qualify for five Olympics. But the moment felt heavier than that even. He thought he never wanted to swim again in 2012 and in the four years since, he had plunged into an emotional abyss, been arrested, learned volumes about himself in therapy, found love and become a dad.
All of it seemed to wash over him as he processed the swim that guaranteed him a place in Rio de Janeiro.
“I think that means the most to me,” he said in the moments after the race, pausing as tears welled in his eyes. “With everything that’s happened to me, sort of being able to come back, that was probably harder than any swim I’ve had in my life. … Just being able to finish [my career] how I want to is so important to me.”
Less than an hour later, he handed his 8-week-old son Boomer, who was sound asleep, his first post-victory stuffed animal — a shark.
“What do you think about before you swim?” one inquired.
“Nothing,” Phelps replied.
“Are you kidding?” the kid asked.
He wasn’t. He believes in turning his mind off and trusting the work he’s done to get to this point. He then chastised himself for not doing that as well as usual on Tuesday his first day of competition. Even 18-time gold medalists tighten up on occasion.
2016 has seemingly been going off the rails for a while now, so it’s genuinely gratifying to have these stories such as this. Michael Phelps, easily one of the most dominant swimmers of all time, going out on his own terms is something that makes you just inherently love sports, even if it’s something as dumb as competitive swimming (no offense, but if you swim please take offense to this, @ me on Twitter water wussies).
Phelps has basically self-concocted the precise recipe that one needs to have a true “come back.” Smoked a little ganja in his youth and got his Corn Flakes sponsorship stripped, got arrested for DUI in September 2014, and now he has an 8th month old son.
Boom! Classic “you got to hit rock bottom to make it to the top” scenario. I bet his baby will star in an Aquaman movie in 2030. Jesus Christ, that joke is so bad that it might be good. All he has to do is win a few gold medals and the world will forget about him being a quitter in the game of partying and going to rehab for 45 days.
Honestly though, I remember watching Phelps as a kid in the 2004 Olympics when he won 8 gold medals. The guy was more important than the POTUS at the time and he made swimming cool for like 3 weeks. So congrats to you Michael, and go get you some in Rio.
P.S. Watch out for Zika MP. Your head is already kind of small for your body.