Michael Phelps shares special bond with Canton swimmer

Olympic swimmers help each other through ups and downs

CANTON, Mich. – Most people know Michael Phelps as the most decorated Olympian of all time, but to Allison Schmitt he is a fellow Olympian, roommate and very close friend.

"He's like a brother to me," Schmitt said. "I know he's been through everything and more. I can always turn to him for advice, a laugh, or a cry session."

Schmitt and Phelps have known each other since 2008, when they trained together under coach Bob Bowman in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Baltimore, Maryland and now Tempe, Arizona. Their friendship has bloomed over time and is very visible when they are poolside and on their social media posts. In fact, Phelps has referred to Schmitt as his "sister from another mother" on social media.

Phelps was the one who first noticed Schmitt was struggling and said something to her during a swim meet in January 2015.

"Michael had said something to me," Schmidt said. "He said, 'Hey, I can tell.' We had been going to practice for the past few weeks together, and he said, 'I can tell in the past few weeks you're not acting yourself. Something seems weird. If you need help, just let me know. I have been through it, and there (are) other people I can have help you.'"

"I think he's seen a lot of tears and he's also been there for a lot of the smiles and I couldn't be more grateful for him," Schmitt said.

Schmitt lives with Phelps, his fiance Nicole Johnson and their son, Boomer.

"I've known them for the past eight-plus years, both of them. So to see them come together as a family and now have a family of three, it's pretty special, and I can't express my gratitude towards them for taking me under their wing," Schmitt said.

"There's never a dull moment in the house," Schmidt said. "It's awesome ... It's fun to see Nicole and Michael as parents."

Schmitt's parents, Ralph and Gail, live in Canton, Michigan, about 2,000 miles away from Allison, who lives in Arizona. They are grateful she has found such good friendship with Phelps and Johnson.

"It makes me feel more comfortable that there's someone there with her who can recognize if she's having good days or bad days and who really cares. So it's very nice to know that they're there," Gail Schmitt said.

Schmitt, who has a strong bond with her own family, appears to have found a home away from home.

"They showed me that family is not just blood-related and family is through loyalty and trust and being there for each other, and I consider them my family," Schmitt said.

Schmitt has not said whether she will continue swimming competitively after the Olympics. She does plan to pursue a career in psychology, helping others who have suffered from depression, especially athletes.

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