Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Michael Phelps: 'I consider myself normal'

By Katie McLaughlin, CNN
August 1, 2012 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Phelps says he will retire after the London 2012 Olympic Games
  • The swimmer has 17 Olympic medals
  • Phelps: "If you want to be the best you have to do things that other people aren't willing to do"

Watch the interview with Michael Phelps on Monday night. "Piers Morgan Tonight" airs at 9 ET weeknights on CNN.

(CNN) -- "I consider myself normal," Michael Phelps told Piers Morgan. "I've spent 20 years in the pool. I consider that something that's normal."

In an interview on Monday's "Piers Morgan Tonight," the American swimmer who has amassed 17 Olympic medals talked about his goals for the 2012 Games, his heroes, mistakes he's made, his impending retirement and much more.

Phelps won six gold and two bronze medals at the Athens Games in 2004, and eight gold medals at Beijing in 2008. Last night, Phelps won his first ever silver as part of the 400-meter relay team. His medal collection leaves him a mere two medals away from becoming the winningest athlete in Olympic history.

Lochte wins gold, no medal for Phelps
Phelps leads U.S. quest for swimming glory

In Saturday's 400-meter individual medley, Phelps came in fourth place. Fellow USA teammate Ryan Lochte won the gold. It was the first time Phelps failed to win a medal in an Olympic event since 2000. Phelps, 27, is competing in his fourth and final Olympics before retirement.

Phelps, who grew up in a suburb of Baltimore, began swimming at age 7.

Michael Phelps cements legacy as one of all-time Olympic greats

Phelps at one point trained every day for five years. He spent three to six hours in the pool each day and exercised on dry land four to five days a week.

Morgan pointed out that the number of Olympians who cite Phelps as an inspiration makes the swimmer an almost godlike figure, but Phelps said that his athletic role model has always been Michael Jordan.

"On and off the court, the guy made basketball what it is," Phelps told Morgan.

Phelps has yet to meet the basketball Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion, who also is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. But the two sports stars share a similar trait: Both men had a dream, reached for it and achieved it despite the sacrifices they made.

"I think one of the coolest things that I loved about him was it didn't matter what he had going on off the court or if he was sick or this, that," said Phelps. "He never used an excuse. He came out every single night on the court and did what he had to do to get his job done. That's what champions do. It doesn't matter what else is going on when you walk in to your arena, whatever you excel at, you're there to take care of the job that you have to do."

Lochte vs. Phelps: Swimmer showdown heats up the Web

Morgan asked Phelps to recall the fallout from the 2009 incident in which a photograph of the swimmer allegedly smoking pot from a bong at a party surfaced.

"I'll make a million mistakes in my life but as long as I never make the same mistake again, then I've been able to learn and grow," said Phelps. He also said that the incident made him realize who his real friends were.

With retirement clear on the horizon, Phelps told Morgan that he'd most like to be remembered for "doing something that nobody else had ever done before, changing the sport of swimming. That's what I hope to walk out of this sport with."

One aspect of retirement that Phelps looks forward to is visiting oceans or resorts and not getting in the water.

"I don't want to get in the water," said Phelps. "I spent so much time in the water; I'm like 'No I'll sit here on the beach. ... I don't want to get in the water and play."

Godfather of U.S. competitive swimming Spitz bets on Phelps

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
The moment that Team GB's Mo Farah won the 10,000 meters was a wonderful collision of electricity.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
His blistering pace and larger-than-life antics made him the king of the track in London, and bolstered his claims to be a "living legend."
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 0944 GMT (1744 HKT)
Disappointment for Nigeria's Muizat Ajoke Odumosu, who came last in the 400m hurdles final, London 2012 Olympics.
The Olympics are generally won and lost long before the opening ceremony cauldron is touched by fire.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 0738 GMT (1538 HKT)
Fans of the home side, Team GB, wave Union Jack flags during the Olympic Games
CNN's Richard Quest believes the London Games will be regarded as having brought the Olympics concept home.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Strategist Alastair Campbell says he never imagined London 2012 would be quite the triumph it turned out to be.
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Award-winning director Danny Boyle celebrates the best of British music in London 2012's Olympic Closing Ceremony.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
From Usain Bolt's record-setting achievements to an unexpected Ugandan gold, London 2012 has provided a wide array of highlights.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 0305 GMT (1105 HKT)
CNN's Amanda Davies recaps the London 2012 Olympics from the opening ceremony on July 27 to the finale on day 16.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Mo Farah and Usain Bolt celebrate their success at the London 2012 Olympic Games by copying each other's
It's been just over two weeks since the Queen parachuted into London's Olympic Stadium, her apricot dress flapping in the breeze.
August 15, 2012 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
When the world's top marathon runners bid to win Olympic gold, they would do well to draw inspiration from one of the greatest athletes in the history of track and field.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Team GB supporters with their faces painted in Union Jack designs at the Olympic Stadium in London.
Alastair Campbell always thought London 2012 would be a success, but never imagined it would be quite the triumph it has turned out to be.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Adrien Niyonshuti is unlikely to win an Olympic medal, and he will do well to even finish his event, but his story is surely one of the most inspirational.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
The colors of the Olympic Rings at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, August 2012.
Olympic fever has cheered up London and made it a more welcoming place, but will optimism be one of the legacies of the Games?
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Wojdan Shaherkani's Olympic debut was short, but sweet -- the Saudi judoka said competing at the Games was
London 2012 is the first Olympics to feature women in every national team, with Jacques Rogge hailing a "major boost for gender equality."
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
An impoverished South Korean gymnast has not only struck Olympic gold, but also reaped a $444,000 donation in a veritable rags to riches tale.
August 9, 2012 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
Britain's hero Jessica Ennis is set to cash in after winning heptathlon gold, but the poster girl of the 2012 Olympics says fame is not her motivation.
August 8, 2012 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
China is rallying around fallen hurdler Liu Xiang after he failed to make it past the first-round heat for a second consecutive Olympics.
August 3, 2012 -- Updated 1930 GMT (0330 HKT)
The first woman to win Olympic gold almost died in a plane crash, but remarkably returned to run again for the U.S. in 1936.
August 7, 2012 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Don Paige could not bear to watch the race he knew he could win. The 1980 Moscow Olympics were the death of a dream for many athletes.
August 4, 2012 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
Ricardo Blas Jr
While Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt grab the headlines, little-known athletes from around the world keep alive the original spirit of the Olympics.
Athletes spend years eating the right foods ... and then must resist the free fast food in the Olympic village. How do they do it?
ADVERTISEMENT