Team Panasonic: Michael Phelps
A Champion. For Progress.
Michael set his Olympic journey in motion not in a pool, but on a piece of paper. When he was 11, he wrote that he wanted to go to the Olympic Games and win a gold medal. Four years later, he achieved that goal. He did it by taking one day at a time, seeing each challenge as a brick in a wall he had to conquer. He knew that you can’t take on the entire challenge at once, but brick by brick, you can.
Through his career, he proved that striving for fractional improvements was a goal unto itself. He made it to the Olympics not simply to become the greatest swimmer the world had ever seen, but to solve those challenges along the way, one by one.
“You put in the work to be able to deserve what you've achieved. And I think those climbs were the best parts for me, the most exciting.” – Michael Phelps
A champion's focus
Along his journey, Michael removed the word “can’t” from his vocabulary and refused to give up, ever. That pressure of being the elite athlete helped Michael grow as a person, too. But it was far from easy as he struggled with his mental health. What could have been debilitating or career ending for some was just additional fuel for the passion burning inside of him.
He credits recognizing his own depression as the factor that allowed him to truly get to know himself. When he embraced his condition, it empowered him to be a better him, the authentic Michael Phelps. He admits there was difficulty along the way, but just like the incremental improvements he made lap after lap, he had to go through the pain to emerge whole on the other side.
“I'm finally comfortable in my own skin, just being able to talk about some of those struggles. But that’s the only way you’re going to see change, forcing yourself to go through uncomfortableness.” – Michael Phelps
A champion for mental health
Perched on the blocks before a heat, Michael stood alone. However, he knew he didn’t get to that spot by himself – that there were coaches, teammates and family right there with him. So when he began to approach his condition, he understood that addressing depression would require a team approach, too.
“I've learned that it's more difficult to try to take on everything by yourself. The more help you have, the easier the journey becomes. I needed to ask for help.” – Michael Phelps
Maybe he didn’t know it at the time, but by asking for assistance, Michael was indirectly helping countless others – athletes around the world. His bravery cast a light on the extreme pressures athletes face, and the toll it takes which the public seldom, if ever, sees.
His personal breakthroughs over the last five years have encouraged him to help others, directly, too. He now works with children, coaching them on two things close to his heart – water safety and a better understanding of our mental health. This balance of physical and mental health is central to the Michael Phelps Foundation, an organization that brings people together to find the help they need.
“Teaching people that they’re not alone, bringing mental health to the forefront, being able to save a life is bigger than ever winning a gold medal or breaking a world record.” – Michael Phelps