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Rio 2016 Olympics: Michael Phelps will be Team USA flag bearer

The highly-decorated Olympian has been chosen to lead the American athletes into Rio's Maracana Stadium during Friday's opening ceremony.
/ Source: TODAY

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, is set to add a unique honor to his glittering resume: flag bearer.

The swimmer has been chosen to lead the American athletes into Rio's Maracanã Stadium during Friday's opening ceremony, it was revealed exclusively on TODAY Wednesday.

"It's something I'm obviously looking forward to," the 18-time gold medalist told Matt Lauer and Hoda Kotb during an interview in Rio Wednesday.

"There's definitely going to be a lot of emotions," Phelps said. "It's a huge honor to me."

NBC Sports' Bob Costas said Phelps deserved the role on achievement "a couple of Olympics ago,” but said the swimmer will cherish it more now.

"He's at an entirely different point in his life. He's reconciled with his father, he's happier, he's fitter than he's ever been. He'll really appreciate this experience. He's the right guy," Costas said on TODAY Wednesday.

Phelps will be the second swimmer to carry the American flag, following Gary Hall in 1976. The role is voted on by fellow members of Team USA.

TODAY gave viewers a sneak peek at the Polo Ralph Lauren outfits Phelps and his fellow Olympians will wear during the Parade of Nations — but Phelps' uniform will have one notable difference.

RELATED: First look! See Team USA's opening ceremony look for the Rio Olympics

The swimmer's outfit will include special electroluminescent panels that represent "the intersection of fashion and technology," according to David Lauren, Ralph Lauren's executive vice president for global advertising, marketing and communications.

The flag bearer's jacket will feature electroluminescent panels.Polo Ralph Lauren

"For an athlete, being chosen as the flag bearer for Team USA is an extraordinary honor, and we wanted to pay tribute to that position," Lauren said in a statement.

During Phelps' most recent interview on TODAY, Matt asked the swimmer to come up with the ideal headline to summarize the ending of the upcoming games.

"It would say something along the lines of, I finally gave 100 percent," he said. "Or I'm happy to turn the page to the next chapter. I'm happy to move on from my swimming career and go out how I wanted to."