16 total medals, including eight golds in Beijing, and a winding road just to compete in London.
It's a life that, I think, would be appealing to any athlete.
But at 26, Michael Phelps is ready to hang up the goggles.
It's actually a shocking thing to hear, if I may say so myself.
As a competitive athlete, many would consider 26 to be "prime time." It's the time in one's life when their body has finally caught up to the daily routine of diet, training, and mentality. The time when you are performing at your best. For Phelps, it's the time when his body is telling him; I'm done.
As a former swimmer myself for nine years, Phelps was always an athlete I admired. Just knowing his daily commitment to something he valued and loved was inspiring. Actually at a critical time in my life, he played a role in me deciding to dedicate my life to the hardwood, or to the pool.
When I hear the latest on Phelps and his aspirations to "call it quits" after the London games, I have to admit, I "get it."
6 AM wake up calls. Strict diets. Grueling weight training. Hours upon hours of making the pool his home, to now even being the "boy in a bubble," when he sleeps. I can't blame one of American swimming's greatest icons. Swimming is a sport that takes a toll and, at the highest level of competition, it can take a toll quickly. There always comes a point in life when it is time to just walk away.
However, this is not where the story and inspiration ends for me.
Phelps is just three medals away from owning the most Olympic medals in the history of the world. He is closing on Larissa Latynina of the former Soviet Union, who captured 18 medals in her career.
Now I don't know about you, but four years of training to perform for just minutes, sometimes seconds, is A LOT. However, Phelps, after moments of walking away and questioning whether life in the pool was really what he wanted, did wake up one morning and was able to find that sense of urgency as he became the greatest swimmer in the world.
To me, it was a sense of urgency that will make him not just one of the greatest swimmers in the world, but one of the greatest athletes in the world.
And London will be his final stage. I know I will be watching, will you?