Tonight we watched Michael swim his last short course swim, at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD at the NBAC Christmas Meet. Our club, NBAC (North Baltimore Aquatic Club) has been hosting this meet for 38 years and we’ve had a Phelps’ swimmer in 25 of those meets, Michael has swam in 18 of them. As I sit here and type that, it seems more real than simply saying the words out loud.
We started swimming at this meet when I was just a few years older than my 5-year old niece. The meet has changed pools and venues, but we’ve always been there. It’s almost surreal.
We had friends and family at the meet all weekend cheering on MP. It makes no difference if you’re an age group swimmer or the best swimmer in the world, having loved ones there to cheer you on and support you is always the best! And it always brings a smile to my face to hear my niece and nephew screaming “GO Uncle Michael.”
Tonight, Mom and I had the opportunity and honor to time for Michael’s last race, the 100 free. There was very little time in between the awesome record breaking 200 backstroke and the 100 free, and Michael commented that he was tired from the quick turnaround. The meet director made a special announcement, indicating that it was in fact Michael’s last race at the Christmas meet before the start of the race and he talked with us about his strategy for the race.
Afterwards, Michael warmed down and signed autographs. He has always been so great about staying after he’s finished swimming and signing shirts, caps and photos for kids and teens alike. He’s very grounded and appreciative of his fans, and it shows when he stays after the meet and talks to as many people as possible.
People asked us if it was hard, being that this was the last Christmas Meet, and honestly, I’m not sure that the winding down of the last year has sunk in. But, I do believe that it will be toughest next year, around this time, when we don’t have the Christmas meet to attend. Who knows… maybe one of the nieces or nephews is next, and we can continue the Phelps’ swimming tradition.
We thank you for all of the kind emails, messages and tweets… from a family who values the little things, it’s appreciated and thoughtful. We recognize that while it’s meaningful to our family, it’s memorable to you, the fans, as well!