The official retirement of Michael Phelps, 27, as an Olympic athlete is right around the corner, which is sure to make his final Olympic competition as a swimmer in the London games all the more intense.

"It'll be a big moment," said Phelps' mother, Debbie Phelps, 61, a middle school principal near Baltimore, Maryland, who is often seen at games and otherwise by her son's side, even during a hosting stint Phelps did for Saturday Night Live. "I'll pull out my box of [tissues]," Debbie told People about Phelps' retirement, "because it's going to be emotional."

Phelps' sisters, Hilary, 34, and Whitney, 32, feel similarly, acknowledging the whole family's collective athletic pursuits since they were all young. "It's not just the end of Michael swimming, but the end of a 25-year era that the Phelps family has been involved with," she said. "And it's culminating with Michael essentially being the greatest Olympian of all time, so there's a nice bow on it."

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