Talk about two impressive bodies of work!
Purdy, who recently competed on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, opens up about becoming an amputee and her career trajectory in an interview with the publication's website. "I was 19 years old, and I felt like I had the flu one day. Within 24 hours, I was in the hospital on life support, and I was given less than a 2 percent chance of living. It took five days for the doctors to find out that I had contracted bacterial meningitis. I ended up losing my legs below the knees from septic shock," Purdy, now 34, recalls. "But I have to say that if I had not gone through that experience, I certainly wouldn't be where I'm at today."
After being in a coma for two and a half weeks, doctors placed Purdy on life support. "Then I was put into an induced coma," she says. "It felt like I was hanging on by my fingertips on a cliff, like literally hanging on by a thread," she continues. "It felt like if I just relaxed for one second then I would go."
Purdy got up on a snowboard about seven months after she lost her legs. At the time, she was still very sick—I was still 83 pounds, I still had kidney failure," Purdy says. "But I haven't ever missed a season of snowboarding, and I made it a goal that I wasn't going to miss that season whether I lost my legs or not."
The experience made Purdy appreciate her body in an entirely different way. "What I love about my body, especially right now, is just how strong it is," she says. "I've felt that contrast of it being as weak and vulnerable as it could be. When I was in the hospital and I lost my legs—to go from that to feeling stronger than ever, and knowing the strength of my body has been what's gotten me to where I'm at today, as far as the Paralympics and Dancing With the Stars goes—I'm so proud of how healthy I am."
The pictures, taken by Paola Kudacki, are certainly a testament to that.
As for Phelps, posing nude was no big deal. "A Speedo doesn't really hide that much anyway," he says.
During his short-lived retirement, Phelps says he packed on the pounds. "Oh, I was fat. I got fat and out of shape. It was hard because I had always eaten whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it," the 18-time gold medalist says. "I would always be like, 'All right, I'll go work out,' and I would never ever go. Sure enough, 25 pounds later, I was still saying the same thing. That was just part of my learning process."
The 6-foot-4 swimmer says the weight came off easily once he started working out again. "I got out of the shower one day and I'm like, "Wow. What am I doing?" It was all over after that. I lost 25 pounds in probably six weeks—just working out two hours a day, eating healthy," he reveals. "It shed right off."
At 29, Phelps' body has certain limitations. "I don't recover nearly as fast as I used to," he says. "It's one of the reasons I have to change what I put into my body. It's not the 18-year-old body it was before."
Whether he's trying to lose weight or stage a comeback, Phelps feels invincible. "I don't think there's really anything that you can't do," he tells ESPN The Magazine. "The first time you doubt yourself, you might as well just give up there because you're already saying you're done, you're finished."
Other athletes profiled include snowboarder Jamie Anderson, tennis player Tomas Berdych, bobsledder Aja Evans, football player Larry Fitzgerald, soccer player Omar Gonzalez, surfer Coco Ho, boxer Bernard Hopkins, cliff diver Ginger Huber, hockey player Hilary Knight, basketball player Angel McCoughtry, soccer player Megan Rapinoe and tennis player Venus Williams. The Body Issue is available to buy July 11.