No one can question that Michael Phelps has the physique destined for swimming through bodies of water. He also has the Olympian determination that propelled him to train for the Rio games as his way of making a statement in his sport, even when his commitment to the 2016 Games came later than usual. Michael Phelps’ incredible “wingspan” of arms outstretched, powerful torso, and speed of his turns at the wall are incomparable, but his transitions in life didn't happen easily.

The record-breaking swimmer sat down in semi-casual, sockless style to talk with Megyn Kelly on October 19 about his own struggles with anxiety and depression, and the need to dispel stigmas hovering over mental health.

His golden reign in the water is complete, but the greater purpose he finds in life and fatherhood feels new every day.

Being a dad makes a difference

Another major difference for Michael Phelps in Rio was that his cheering section had grown. Alongside his ever-present mom, Debbie was smiling, exuberant Nicole, who was already Mrs. Phelps, but no one knew that status officially. Sitting on her lap was the buoyant baby son, Boomer, usually wearing ear protection to drown out the din of the crowd cheering for his dad. The new inspiration certainly made a difference, and every race in the pool was crowned with a kiss on Boomer’s head.

Now, another Phelps child is on the way. Being a parent provokes contemplation on the deeper legacy beyond the hardware in the specially designed case.

Michael Phelps alone has more medals than 173 of the countries competing in the Olympics, but being alone became a tremendous opponent for the athlete. He started opening up just before his Rio run in an interview with Sports Illustrated. He revealed his darker times with even more candor in the independent film “Angst.” Phelps divulged episodes of being bullied, and despite all his glimmering gold, feeling so racked by anxiety and depression that he “didn't want to live anymore.”

Accolades never replace human connection, so instead of hiding behind any self-constructed compartments or substances, as he had turned to in younger years, 30-year-old Michael Phelps began to talk to people, to welcome the company of friends, who brought food, a hug, or just a willingness to listen.

“Success in what I do doesn't make me superhuman,” insists the dad, who also says he learned to communicate at 30. That kind of communication makes his moments of fatherhood more precious at 32 because he knows the importance of those “Why?” questions. Public stature didn’t heal the “no self-love” and no self-confidence in Michael.

Learning to be open and asking himself, “Why am I so angry?” or “Why did that hurt so much?” led him to deeper connections with everyone around him.

Reaching out

Michael Phelps has tried to pass on the sense of peace that he has found in honestly facing his personal issues with mental health. He has formed a friendship with Australian swimmer, Grant Hackett, who checked into a rehab facility months ago, clearly struggling with some demons. He has also reached out to Tiger Woods, relating that nobody goes through life without problems, and reminding that “it's okay to not be okay.” The key is to find that trusted someone who can help.

“Working out makes me a better person, a better husband, a better dad,” reiterates the stellar swimmer.

Even between friends, turning off the competitive gene is a tough trick. “Friendly” swims still can end with a contest of “diving for 50” according to Phelps, but the result isn’t so important.

Water conservation has become very important to the Phelps family. Michael is partnering with Colgate to drive home the message.