Leadership

Michael Phelps Even Brushes His Teeth Better Than You Do

The Olympic superstar is passionate about conserving the stuff he earned all those medals swimming around in.
Michael Phelps Even Brushes His Teeth Better Than You Do
Image credit: Colgate
Entrepreneur Staff
Editorial Director
5 min read

Did you know that if you leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth, you waste about 64 glasses of water?

(If you answered yes to that question, please don’t tell my son Gus or he will use that as an excuse to never brush his teeth -- or take a shower -- again. And trust me, that’s not good for anybody’s environment.)

I learned about the unwitting harm our collective quest to have fresh breath can have to our planet from a man who knows a thing or two about water: Michael Phelps, that guy who won a record-setting 23 Olympic gold medals while splashing around in it. He’s working alongside Colgate to teach us all not to be wasteful jerks on Earth Day. “I've been in water my whole entire life; I know how important it is,” he tells me.

Related: 40 Most Entrepreneurial Athletes In the Game

Colgate's Save Water Every Drop Counts campaign offers tips and tools to help us conserve water, including a Google Home app that plays the sound of running water when you turn off the faucet so you don’t miss it. Wait, really? Really. Phelps says he uses it and loves it. “We have several sound machines in our house,” he says. “They’re super calming for us as a family, and I love the sound of running water.”

This is all new to me. We have a Google Home at my house, but it is pretty much used exclusively in these three ways:

  1. I ask it what the weather is because I’m too lazy to look out the window.
  2. I ask it to play my favorite music and then my children immediately tell it to stop because my favorite music is “old” and “sucks.”
  3. It starts responding to TV commercials for Google Home -- essentially talking to another Google Home -- which assures me that the robot revolution is coming fast and none of us will be spared.

But I suppose I can try using it for this. Phelps is pretty passionate about water conservation, as he is about other pursuits such as speaking publicly about the mental health issues he’s faced over the years. “It’s exciting for me because at this stage in my life I have the opportunity to potentially help somebody get through a hard time or even save a life by just opening up about my own battles with depression,” he tells me.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

He credits his ability to overcome obstacles with the support of friends and family, and also by getting in the pool for regular workouts that he says keeps him sane. Speaking of the pool, I wondered if he is cheering on the new crop of half-human/half-fish people swimming for his record, or is he like the ghost of Babe Ruth trying to curse Roger Maris’s home run efforts?

“Records are made to be broken,” he says. “I’d enjoy seeing mine get broken only because I think it would be really cool to watch a kid have a dream that's that big.” (I can’t say I share Phelps' giving nature on this front. I once held the Asteroids high score on my Atari and was utterly crushed the day my older brother beat it.)

I asked Phelps what he did to get psyched up for a race, and he says besides listening to music, not much. “I was really relaxed because my favorite part of swimming was competing.”

If I were a professional swimmer, there is no doubt what my favorite part would be: eating. Back in the day, Phelps was said to eat 10,000 calories a day to fuel his Olympic training efforts. Does he still eat like that?

Related: 3 Ways to Innovate Like an Olympian at the Office

“I mean, I'm not swimming 60,000 or 80,000 yards a week anymore, so the amount I'm eating is not what it once was!" he says. "For me, after 2012, I kind of learned the hard way that I can’t eat the same.” He says he tries to eat in a way to get the best performance from his body, but admits, “I have a cheat meal or two a week.”

Once or twice a week? Oh, I can cheat on my diet way more than that. Wait a second, did I just beat Michael Phelps at something? Cue the national anthem -- all my training has finally paid off!

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