Michael Fred Phelps, one of the greatest athletes of all time and the most successful and decorated athlete in Olympic history, with 28 medals (23 of them gold), won between 2004 and 2016 and the most successful swimmer in the history of the World Championships, is making a commitment outside the pool to mental and physical health.
The current world record holder in the 400m medley and 4 × 100m freestyle and the only swimmer to retain his title at four consecutive Olympic Games in the 200m medley, Michael Phelps is now working out of the water to promote healthy, active living, especially for children, primarily by expanding opportunities for participation in the sport of swimming. He launched in 2015 by donating the $1 million he received as a bonus for his eight gold medals.
Teaching 200,000 people to swim
Through a coalition of strategic partners, the Michael Phelps Foundation has helped more than 200,000 people around the world learn to swim, lead healthy lives, and set goals through the Boys and Girls Club of America and Special Olympics International. Its flagship program, IM, was developed in partnership with Nemours KidsHealth.org and Michael Phelps Swimming. It is a multi-faceted offering of learn-to-swim, recreational aquatics, organized swim training, and health, wellness, and goal-setting programs.
Commitment to mental health promotion
“Overcoming fears, facing adversity, and setting goals are valuable skills that transcend swimming. So is the importance of physical and mental/emotional health.” In 2018, the foundation expanded its skills with a program of lessons dedicated to emotional well-being (Healthy IM) for Boys and Girls Clubs and Special Olympics participants.
Michael Phelps himself has opened up about his personal struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. He collaborated on the HBO Sports documentary “The Weight of Gold,” which explores the mental health issues often faced by Olympic athletes. For this new commitment to mental health, he received the Morton E. Ruderman Award from the Ruderman Foundation. Ruderman Award from the Ruderman Foundation in Boston for his support of the underprivileged and his “own work” to combat depression.