Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Michael Phelps had an incredible year. The Olympic swimmer and his then-fiancee Nicole Johnson welcomed son Boomer in May, he and Johnson secretly married in June and he finished his Olympic career in Rio this summer with a record 23 gold medals, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time. But he had one more accomplishment to add to his list before 2016 ends: gracing yet another cover of Sports Illustrated.

Phelps, who has 28 medals overall, officially bid farewell to the world of swimming in Sports Illustrated’s latest cover story. In the article, Phelps, 31, discussed why he decided to retire, his darkest days and the legacy he’s leaving behind. “If swimming is over for Phelps, there will be hours, days and months to fill,” Tim Layden writes. “His life has been a blur since Rio, but that will slow as the distance grows from his last medal ceremony.” Additionally, looking back on all of the medals he’s won, Phelps remembered the stories that go with them and the new stories that he has yet to tell.

Looking back, Phelps has appeared on the cover of 12 Sports Illustrated issues. Prior to his official retirement announcement, Phelps was joined by fellow Olympians Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles, the stars of the Rio 2016 Olympics. His first cover for the magazine was in August 2004, a preview for the Summer Olympics in Greece. He appeared on his first-ever magazine cover, according to NBC Olympics, at the age of 15.

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