For the first time since the 2000 Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps watched the Games with his wife, Nicole Johnson, from the sidelines. Michael didn’t win a medal at his first Olympics, but in the next four Games, he would become the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Since his retirement, Michael has been quite active on social media, sharing photos of Nicole and his rapidly growing sons. “I can’t wait to spend [infinite] of July 12ths w you!!!” Michael wrote as he wished Nicole a happy birthday. Read on to find out more about Nicole Johnson.

Nicole and Michael broke up in 2012 before getting back together in 2014

Nicole Johnson and Michael Phelps

Nicole met Michael at the ESPY awards in 2007. She was an athlete guide at the event, and she wasn’t happy when she was asked to escort Michael around. Nicole harbored dreams of becoming a Formula One correspondent, and she would have wished to be paired with a motorsport athlete.

However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Nicole. She and Michael found out that they had a lot in common, and they soon started dating. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy for the couple to maintain a relationship because of Phelps’ swimming commitments. The couple broke up in late 2011, got back together in early 2012, and split up again before the London Olympics.

In 2014, Phelps decided to try and get Nicole back. He sent Nicole a text in which he declared his love for her. Phelps told USA Today:

“I never wanted to have a, ‘What if?’ I just told her exactly how I felt. I was like, as long as you can tell her that, I can go through my life and be happy. Whatever happens, happens. Obviously we worked through some things. There’s nobody in the world I would rather be with.”

Unfortunately, Nicole was in a relationship with someone when Michael sent his text. She ended the relationship several weeks later, and gradually re-established communication with Michael. Nicole and Michael announced their engagement in February 2015, and they got married in a private ceremony in June 2016.

Nicole helped Michael recover from depression and suicidal thoughts

 Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson

Michael credits Nicole for helping him through a difficult time in his life. He revealed that he suffered from depression and contemplated suicide after the London Olympics. At one of his lowest points, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence in 2014. After that incident, Phelps decided to get his personal life in order.

According to Phelps, Nicole played a crucial role in helping stabilize his life. He told The New York Times:

“We’ve been through a lot. But I love her to death. We’ve been able to grow as a couple through everything we’ve been through, the positive changes I’ve made in my life.”

Nicole checked into therapy to become a better helper for her husband

Nicole and Michael continue to destigmatize mental health conversations by opening up about their experiences with mental health. In mid-January 2021, Nicole talked to TODAY Parents about her fear of losing Phelps to depression. 

She stated that Kobe Bryant’s death made her think about potentially losing Michael. “I was like, ‘Can we please help you?’” Nicole said. “Because if I lose you, I don’t know what I am gonna do. Michael is the most amazing father and partner I could have ever asked for.”

The couple’s young kids sometimes struggle to understand when Michael needs space, but the boys are learning when it is necessary to leave Michael alone. “So we’ll say, ‘Hey Booms [Boomer], Daddy’s having a hard time and just needs to take a moment to be alone,” Nicole said.

She hammered the point home during a subsequent appearance on TODAY: “I’m very vocal about making sure that the kids are aware that maybe Michael’s having a hard day. [The kids] didn’t do something that made Daddy feel this way. It’s Daddy having his own stuff.”

Michael stated that each day is different: One day, he might feel ready to take on the world, and the next day, he might struggle to get out of bed. He usually calms himself down, but he also leans on Nicole a lot. 

Previously, Nicole thought she could ‘fix’ Michael but later learned that she couldn’t do it. “You can’t take ownership for how they are feeling, no matter how badly you want to,” she said. To better support Michael, Nicole started improving her mental strength by attending therapy, journaling and meditating. 

“It’s helping me with everything,” she explained. “It’s support for me. But more than anything, therapy provides me with the tools to be able to help Michael properly.” 

“Mental health is something that’s so important in our family,” Michael said.

She and Michael won’t push their three sons into swimming

Michael Phelps kids and wife

After getting engaged in February 2015, Michael and Nicole planned that they would get married after the Rio Olympics, go on an extended honeymoon, and later start a family. The couple ditched those plans after Nicole got pregnant in the autumn of 2015. She gave birth to Boomer Robert Phelps on 5th May 2016. She told The New York Times:

“Michael was more excited than I was. He was over the moon about having a kid.”

After welcoming Beckett Richard Phelps on 12th February 2018, the couple decided that they wanted another kid. Nicole told Parents: “We both have always said we want three kids. A week after coming home from the hospital with Beckett, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not done, I want more.”

Nicole announced that she was pregnant via Instagram in April 2019, and she and Phelps welcomed Maverick on 9th September 2019. Raising three sons is not easy, but Nicole and Phelps are enjoying being parents. Now that he is retired, Phelps gets to spend a lot of time at home with his sons. Swimming is one of the activities that the family engages in, but the couple decided that they won’t push their sons into competitive sports. Michael told HuffPost:

“Maybe they’ll happen to go into swimming. I just don’t think it’s fair to them to have to live in my footsteps or what I have done. I just don’t think it’s right. I think both of us as parents will just be extremely supportive in helping them find what their passion is, whatever it might be. It potentially won’t be sports. We have no idea.”

Nicole was crowned Miss California USA in 2010

Nicole Johnson

Nicole was born on 12th July 1985 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She and her family moved to California just before she started middle school. Nicole loved education and regularly assisted her mom as she taught science to kids at Medea Creek Middle School. Johnson told My Fit Tribe:

“There are so many kids out there who need a mentor to look up to. Someone they can count on who gives them guidance they need to succeed in life. I had my parents but that isn’t a reality for everyone. I want to make a difference in a child’s life.”

Nicole saw modeling as an opportunity to further her education without straining her parents. She participated in her first pageant because she wanted to win a scholarship to fund her education at the University of Southern California. She took part in the 2007 pageant and emerged second out of 304 contestants.

Johnson tried again in 2010, and this time, she won the Miss California USA crown. Nicole found that participating in pageants helped boost her self-confidence. She told Thousand Oaks Acorn:

“People think pageant girls are snotty, cutthroat, self-absorbed. Everybody that I met in the industry is so kind, giving, and they are some of the most amazing women.”

Nicole participated in the Miss USA pageant in 2010 and came in ninth. She now uses her fame to support charitable causes, including The Michael Phelps Foundation.