updated 08/08/2012 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 08/08/2012 AT 10:25 PM ET
Here’s a gold medal-worthy training tip straight from the most-decorated Olympic athlete of all time: Despite what your mother told you back in your kiddie-pool days, it’s perfectly fine to, um, relieve yourself when you’re swimming.
And this isn’t just Michael Phelps’s mantra, he adds.
“I think everybody pees in the pool,” Phelps, 27, who sealed his historic 22 medal-career at the 2012 Summer Olympics, tells the Wall Street Journal. “It’s kind of a normal thing to do for swimmers. When we’re in the water for two hours, we don’t really get out to pee.”
For those worried about his carefree restroom regimen, he says, “Chlorine kills it, so it’s not bad.” (Fellow Olympic swimmer and 11-time medalist Ryan Lochte previously confessed to Ryan Seacrest: “I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go. [I didn’t] during the races, but I sure did in warm-up.”)
One thing Phelps has been making time for: his love life. As the Games waged on, he had a special somebody – rumored girlfriend Megan Rossee – cheering on the stands, and the couple of seven months stepped out together for an Olympic celebration.
Although he did not comment at a press conference Tuesday about Rossee, 25, and how their relationship will unfold when they leave London, Phelps did tell PEOPLE about the other changes ahead.
“The biggest thing is being able to relax. I want to relax and be on my own time, and if I wake up one morning and say, ‘I want to go here,’ just getting up and going and doing it,” he says. “I think it’s kind of cool to have that freedom.”
As for the next time you’ll catch the now-retired Phelps taking a dip, he’ll probably be on a tropical island getaway.
“The competitive side of me swimming is no longer there. That’s finished,” he says. “Maybe when I go on vacation and I’m by the water, by the ocean, and feel like jumping in, I will. It won’t be something on top of my to-do list.”
With reporting by LIZ CORCORAN