Interview With Michael Phelps’ Beard

Jun 18, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Michael Phelps (USA) answers questions during day one of the Arena Pro Series at Santa Clara, at the George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara, Calif. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Courtesy: Robert Stanton/USA Today Sports Images

By Colin Hogan, Swimming World College Intern

Michael Phelps is the best male swimmer that the world has ever seen. And, if you ignore the fact that human beings evolved over millions of years so that they wouldn’t have to spend their time in the water, Phelps’ accomplishments are pretty impressive.

His retirement brings about a lot of emotions for swim fans—probably similar to the way normal sports fans felt about Jeter or Kobe, I’d imagine. At first it was bittersweet, wishing him well and knowing it was best for him, yet feeling like something essential was slipping away. Of course now we’ve entered the strictly sour phase where pop-culture reveres him like some elder statesman or philosopher-king, and the result is patronizing essays about why Katie Ledecky is fast.

Like, we get it and we didn’t need you to tell us. Next thing you know he’ll be writing a letter to his younger self in the Players’ Tribune.

He’s still pretty tough to book for an interview. Fortunately for you, though, Swimming World Magazine was able to get a sit-down with the facial hair that appears on his face from time to time for an in-depth interview.


Photo Courtesy: Kara Sekenski

Swimming World: Hey, thanks for taking the time to sit down to chat. I know our readers will appreciate it.

Michael Phelps’ Beard: Oh, absolutely. Thanks for having me.

S.W.: I know in the past year or so Michael and you have had a chance to spend more time together. What’s that been like?

M.P.B.: It’s been great. Really fantastic. His obsession with swimming kept us apart for some time, but now that that’s finally over, we’ve had the time to grow, develop and mature together. I think the next few years will be great for our relationship and mutually beneficial to us as individuals.

S.W.: About a year ago now, you joined Michael on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He’s been on the cover 11 times, so what was it like to share that honor with him?

M.P.B.: I mean, it was nice to be on the cover… don’t get me wrong. But think about what you just said. He did it without me ten times. Ten! I’m sorry, that’s actually one of the things that I’m trying to move past in our relationship. It was very nice of him to bring me along that one time when he actually did.

Michael Phelps Sports Illustrated

Photo Courtesy: Sports Illustrated

S.W.: That feature story seems like it was a turning point for Michael. After very publicly coming to terms with issues of mental health, he’s since had his first child, made one the greatest sports comebacks in history, capped off a sensational career, and, not least of all, gotten married.

M.P.B.: Yeah. Looking back I think that article was both an important step for Michael and also for the public’s perception of him. That’s true.

S.W.: A large part of that S.I. story focused around his relationship with his father, Fred Phelps. Now that Michael has stepped into the roles of father and husband himself, and has at the same time stepped away from his career, do you think his relationship with you has anything to do with projecting masculinity during a time of transition both toward and away from traditional masculine roles of breadwinner, husband and father?

M.P.B.: I can’t speak for Michael on so personal a matter. If you want to know that, you’ll have to ask him yourself.

S.W.: [Muttering:] Trust me I’d like to…

M.P.B.: Sorry, what was that?

S.W.: Nothing.

M.P.B.: Ok…

S.W.: Who has been the celebrity you’ve most enjoyed meeting? And do you have any style icons?

M.P.B.: We got to go to the White House for a celebration with the President and First Lady. Getting to meet Bo Obama was definitely something that stuck out to me. He has an incredible personality and is very friendly. Actually, I’d probably choose him as my style icon as well. He’s got great curls that are very well shampooed and conditioned. As a beard, that’s something I aspire to.

S.W.: What’s your relationship like with Nicole [Michael’s wife]?

M.P.B.: Great.

S.W.: Really?

M.P.B.: Well, no. Not really. She was used to a smooth-shaved Michael, as I think most everybody was. She and I are doing better now, but at the beginning things were coarse and a little patchy. For the life of me I couldn’t tell you why, though.

S.W.: It’s a mystery, I suppose.

Michael Phelps engaged to Nicole Johnson

Photo Courtesy: Michael Phelps via Instagram

M.P.B.:  Actually I see that you’ve made some attempt at a beard yourself. How’s that coming along?

S.W.: Truthfully, not so great.

M.P.B.: Am I one of your style icons?

S.W.: God no. I’m going for more of Jon Hamm look.

M.P.B.: [Laughing Uncontrollably] Good luck with that.

S.W.: Do you have any goals for the future?

M.P.B.: I’d love to walk in Paris Fashion Week. Michael’s been getting featured in more and more ads, so you never know!

S.W.: Any last comments you’d like to make?

M.P.B.: Good luck getting this whole fictional interview thing by your editors. And thanks again for having me.

S.W.: Honestly, it was no problem.


Photo Courtesy: Maddie Kyler

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff. Humor is not guaranteed.

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7 years ago

I happened to like the essay he wrote about Katie wasn’t condescending at all.

Catlin Garrison
Catlin Garrison
7 years ago
Reply to  Steff

I also liked the essay, Steff. As I read this piece it seemed to be mean spirited. When, Mr. Hogan made the remark about “writing a letter to his younger self”, I thought surely he isn’t making fun of Phelps therapy sessions while he was in rehab. Maybe that remark was not related to that…at least I hope not.

Dave Oberhofer
7 years ago

That kind of facial hair could easily cost you a world record man!

Catlin Garrison
Catlin Garrison
7 years ago

I didn’t find Phelps essay on Katie Ledecky to be patronizing. I found the comments you made about the “sour phase” to be a bit, well, sour on your part, in the vein of the “shut up and swim” mentality. Glad there was a “no guarantee for humor” posted at the end of this.

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