One beautiful family. Michael Phelps’ fiancee, Nicole Johnson, and his mom, Debbie Phelps, wept tears of joy this weekend as the record-breaking athlete competed in his final Olympics race.
The swim champ’s loved ones assumed their positions inside the Olympics Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for Phelps’ final swim in Rio on Saturday, August 13. Phelps reiterated (again) on the Today show on Monday, August 15, that the 2016 Summer Olympics would be his final run, and he would not be swimming alongside his teammates in Tokyo come 2020.
Phelps, joined by his teammates Ryan Murphy, Nathan Adrian and Cody Miller, took the gold during the Men’s 4 by 100m Medley Relay Final. During the race, Johnson (swaddling 3-month-old baby Boomer) and Debbie excitedly cheered on Team USA and then, the atmosphere shifted.
Both women were documented crying and dabbing their eyes with tissues as Phelps secured his 23rd and final Olympic gold medal — and their expressions spoke volumes.
In a subsequent interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, Phelps said this was exactly how he wanted to round out his Olympic career. “I was able to come back and do things that I wanted to accomplish,” Phelps said on Sunday, August 14. “I had a lot of more four more years chants the last couple of days. And this is what I came back for. At the age of 31, I’m happy to start moving forward to the next chapter in my life. I am retired. This is it.”
Then, he joined Matt Lauer on the Today show on Monday morning to not only reiterate that (yes!) he really, really is retiring, but to share what’s next in life. Phelps said he was looking ahead to “[building] a family with Nicole, continuing to travel, [and] continuing to change the sport of swimming in whatever way I can.”
Phelps also revealed that one of his goals is to lower drowning rates around the world. “We have a full plate and a full schedule of things — we still have goals,” he concluded. “This has been such a passion of mine and a big sport for me.”
Johnson also took to Instagram to celebrate her future husband’s final swim. “It’s been an incredible week with the family cheering on@m_phelps00,” she proudly noted. “So thankful my parents were able to join @mamaphelpsh20 and I!! But sad we were missing @douginla@hilary_phelps & @dougeldridge & Whit n kids #family #teamphelps 📷:@jeffgrosspoker.”
The couple, who got engaged in February, will get married later this year. “We have a date. It’ll be a small and intimate wedding,” the former Miss California told Access Hollywood last week. “And then we’re throwing a massive bash for everyone in the States, so we’re kind of getting things rolling. I’m kind of planning as we’ve been leading up to this. So I think I have the wedding in order and it’s on to the party for the fun.”