Michael Phelps Joins ‘Meet the Press’ To Reflect on Olympic Experience

MEET THE PRESS -- Moderator Kristen Welker interviews former Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps in Phoenix, AZ -- Pictured: (l-r) Michael Phelps, Kristen Welker -- (Photo by: Mark Peterman/NBC)

With the 2024 Paris Olympics in full focus, Olympic champion Michael Phelps sat down with NBC’s “Meet the Press” to discuss his experiences at the pinnacle of swimming.

The full interview will air on Sunday on NBC.

Phelps is a 23-time Olympic gold medalist and 28-time overall medalist in Olympic competition, setting a record with eight golds in the 2008 games in Beijing.

Off the pool deck, Phelps has opened up about his struggles with mental health issues, including depression.

He speaks about all of that and more in this candid interview on “Meet the Press” – here is a first look.

VIDEO courtesy of NBC/Meet the Press: Michael Phelps reflects on depression and mental health: ‘I saw it as a sign of weakness’

KRISTEN WELKER: When did you first realize you were really struggling with depression?
MICHAEL PHELPS: I would say probably 2004. 2004 was my first taste of post-Olympic depression. Coming off such a high when it’s basically you get to like the edge of the cliff, and you’re like, “Cool. Now what? Oh, I guess I’ve got to wait four more years to have the chance to do it again.” Right? And for those who don’t have a successful Olympics, those four years can be like an absolute eternity. So, for me, 2004 is my first, 2008 was my second taste of post-Olympic depression. Because coming off of that high after doing something, like, you set out to do your whole entire life. My goal was to do something no one else had ever done before. I did it by the age of 19, 20, or so.
KRISTEN WELKER: Did you know it was depression, or did you just think, “I’m feeling a little off”?
MICHAEL PHELPS: I think at that point I’ll say as a male athlete I could tell something was off. But I think I saw it as a sign of weakness and if I shared anything about it then it would give my competitors an edge. And I’m not trying to do that, right? I don’t want to give my competitors an edge. I’m trying to be better than anybody, period, has ever been. So, for me, I looked at it as weakness. So, for me, I had to learn that vulnerability is a good thing. And it was scary at first, but I learned that vulnerability just means change. And for me, it was a great change.
On looking ahead to Paris Olympics amid conflict and global division: “I always think that, no matter what’s going on, whether it’s in the U.S. or all over the globe, the Olympics is something that brings everybody together”
KRISTEN WELKER: As we all get ready to watch the Olympics, there’s so much pain right now all over the world. Do you see the Olympics as a moment that can help bring people together?
MICHAEL PHELPS: Oh, that question. That was something, as a competitor, I always saw. Every four years we have the presidential race. And it’s always kind of a crazy time. But I always think that, no matter what’s going on, whether it’s in the U.S. or all over the globe, the Olympics is something that brings everybody together. The spirit of the Olympic Games is so magical. And for me, it’s just something that I can’t imagine life without. This summer is going to be an incredible opportunity to have Paris really show what that city’s all about. Some of these iconic venues and these amazing pools, volleyball courts, whatever it might be that you’re going to have. Hold on. These iconic landmarks that Paris has, and to be able to play beach volleyball under the Eiffel Tower, all of these things, I just have these visions in my head of this summer’s games and nothing but happiness. For me, that’s what I feel around an Olympic Games, and I can’t wait to get to Paris.
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