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Michael Phelps – the human amphibian with no fins

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Michael Phelps is the most successful and famous Olympian. He entered the Olympics as a part of the American Swimming team at the early age of 15. In his prolific sports career, he won a total of 28 Olympic medals and still holds the record for the highest number of Olympic medals by any athlete. His sports life and achievements are a source of strong inspiration for any aspiring sportsman.

Early life

Michael Phelps was born on June 30, 1985, in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of nearby Towson.

His mother, Deborah Sue “Debbie” Phelps was a middle school principal. And his father, Michael Fred Phelps, was a retired Maryland State Trooper who played football in high school and college.

Michael Phelps went to Rodgers Forge Elementary, Dumbarton Middle School and Towson High School.

All was not well and his parents got divorced in the year 1994. Then his father remarried in the year 2000. Later Phelps recalled the severe negative impact on him and his siblings, the divorce had.

In his family, he is the youngest of three children and has two elder sisters. His mother put them to swimming to learn the skill. Subsequently, he and his sisters developed a fondness towards it as a sport.

His elder sister Whitney tried out for the U.S. Olympic team in the year 1994 at the age of 15. But injuries affected her progress.

When put to swim at the age of seven, he felt scared of the water and hesitated to put his head down. So, coaches put him backward in the water. As a result, backstroke is the one he mastered first.

When he was in his sixth grade, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Despite this and to overcome it, he continued his swimming. And at the age of ten, he held a national record for his age group.

In the year 1996, when he saw swimmers Tom Malchow and Tom Dolan compete at Summer Games in Atlanta, the dream of becoming a champion engulfed him. He launched his swimming career at the Loyola High School pool.

He continued his training at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under coach Bob Bowman and made many records in the age groups that followed. And he still holds 11 age group records. By 1999, Phelps got selected into the U.S. National B Team.

Know more about the swimmer who born to make records

Career of Michael Phelps

2000 Summer Olympics

At the age of 15, Michael Phelps got selected into the U.S. Olympic team and he became the youngest male to make into the team after 68 years. Though he didn’t win a medal, he finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly.

2001 World Championships

When he was 15 years and 9 months, he became the youngest to set a world record in swimming. He broke the world record in the 200- meter butterfly at the World Championship Trials for the 2001 World Aquatics Championships, on March 30.

Subsequently, at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Phelps broke his own world record in the 200-meter butterfly and became a world champion for the first time.

2002 Pan Pacific championships

In the 2002 selection for Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, Michael Phelps set an American record in the 200-meter individual medley.

In the 400-meter individual medley, Michael Phelps beat the record held by Tom Dolan with the timing of 4:11.09. Klette Keller beat Phelps in the 200-meter freestyle. But, Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly by beating Ian Crocker.

Then Phelps went on to win three gold medals and two silver medals at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships held in Yokohama, Japan.

Phelps finished 400-meter individual medley with the timing of 4:12.48 by beating Erik Vendt. But he lost the 200-meter butterfly to Tom Malchow.

He won the 200-meter individual medley with a time of 1:59.70. And in the 4×200 meter freestyle relay, his team won the silver medal.

Phelps swam a 51.1 split in the 4×100 meter medley relay which was the fastest at that time and the final time 3:33.48 was a record.

2003 World championships

Michael Phelps became the first American swimmer to win three different races in three different strokes at a national championship when he won the 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter backstroke, and the 100-meter butterfly at nationals.

He broke the world record in the 400-meter individual medley and he finished the laps in 4:10.73. And he was near to break the world record in the 100-meter butterfly when he missed it 0.03 seconds.

Then at a meet in Santa Clara County, California, Phelps finished the laps in the 200-meter individual medley with a time of 1:57.94 and made a world record.

Consequently, in the 2003 World Aquatic Championships, Phelps won four gold medals and two silver medals. And he broke five world records in the meet.

He broke the world record in the 200-meter butterfly when he finished it with the timing of 1:53.93. Incidentally, he broke his own world record of 1:54.58 set in 2001 and became the first man to swim under 1:54.00.

Phelps won the gold medal in the final of the 200-meter butterfly. In the semi-finals of the 200-meter individual rally, he broke his own record with a time of 1:57.52. Further, in the final, he smashed this record with a time of 1:56.04 and won the gold medal.

In the semi-finals of the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps finished the laps in 51.47 and it was another world record. But in the final, he lost the race to Ian Crocker and won the silver medal.

Then he went on to break the world record in the 400-meter individual medley when he made it with the timing of 4:09.09 in the final. He also won the gold medal for the 400-meter medley relay.

Michael Phelps in 2004 Summer Olympics

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Trials

In the trials for the Olympics, Michael Phelps participated in six events in the U.S. team. 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley, 100-and 200-meter butterfly, the 200-meter freestyle, and the 200-meter backstroke were the events he chose to compete.

In the 400-meter individual medley, Phelps won with a record time of 4:08.41. Then he won the 200-meter freestyle, with a time of 1:46:27. The next day, Phelps won the 200-meter butterfly race with a time of 1:54.31.

But Phelps finished second in the 200-meter backstroke. In the 200-meter individual medley, which was conducted a half an hour later, he came first and finished the race 2.70 seconds ahead of the next swimmer.

In the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps lost the race in 0.39 seconds. After the end of the trials, he became the first person to qualify in six individual events for a U.S. Olympic team.

Olympics in Athens

Michael Phelps won his first Olympic gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley with the record time of 4:08.26.

On the following day, his team finished third in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay.

In the next 200-meter freestyle event, which sports enthusiasts described as the race of the century, Phelps finished third behind Ian Thorpe and Pieter van den Hoogenband.

The following day, Phelps won a gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly with a time of 1:54.04, breaking Tom Malchow’s Olympic record.

Then his team finished the 4×200 meter freestyle relay at 7:07.33 and won the first place.

Phelps finished the 200-meter individual medley with the time of 1:57.14 and won the gold medal. And it was a new Olympic record.

Next in the events, Phelps defeated his American teammate Ian Crocker in the 100-meter butterfly. And the timing was 51.25 seconds and he was just 0.04 seconds ahead.

Then in the 4×100 meter medley, his team won the gold medal with a record in time.

In the end, Phelps won six gold medals and two bronze medals. He was still a teenager then and his achievement was second-best individual performance in Olympics, next to Mark Spitz, who won seven medals in the year 1972.

2005 World championships

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In the trials to 2005 World Championship, Michael Phelps won 400-meter freestyle, the 200-meter freestyle, the 100-meter butterfly, the 100-meter freestyle, and the 200-meter individual medley.

At the 2005 World Aquatics Championships, Phelps won six medals in total which included five golds, and one silver.

Phelps didn’t go past the preliminary heats in the 400-meter freestyle and finished overall with a time of 3:50.53.

On the same day, he won his first gold medal in the championship in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay.

Then he won the 200-meter freestyle event with the record American time of 1:45.20 and won his second gold medal.

He didn’t make it in the 100-meter freestyle and finished seventh in the final. But he went on to win his third gold in the 200-meter individual medley in the same day.

His team won the 4×200 meter freestyle relay and he got his fourth gold medal in the World championship.

When he competed in the 100-meter butterfly event, he wasn’t able to beat Ian Crocker and won the silver medal.

And he got his sixth gold medal when his team won the 4×100 meter medley relay.

2006 Pan Pacific championships

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In the year 2006, Michael Phelps won three events in the National Championships.

Then he won the 200-meter butterfly event, with the championship record time of 1:54:32.

Phelps went on and won the 100-meter butterfly race and beat Ian Crocker with the timing of 51.51.

Next in the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps won it with a time of 1:56.50 by beating Ryan Lochte, who finished in 1:56.78.

Then in the 2006 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships held in Victoria, British Columbia, Phelps won five gold medals and one silver.

In the 200-meter butterfly, Phelps won the gold with the world record time of 1:53.80.

He won the 400-meter individual medley with the timing of 4:10.47 and beat the second-place winner with 3.38 seconds.

Phelps won the third gold in the 4×200 meter freestyle relay and his team finished it with the time of 7:05.28.

He finished the 200-meter backstroke with 1:56.81 and won the silver medal.

His team finished 4×100 meter freestyle relay in a world record time of 3:12.46 and he got the fifth gold medal.

And in his sixth event, Phelps won the 200-meter individual medley with the world record time of 1:55.84.

2007 World championships

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At the 2007 World Aquatics Championships, Michael Phelps won seven gold medals, tying the record for a global long-course championship held by Mark Spitz since the 1972 Summer Olympics, and broke five world records.

Phelps won his first gold medal in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay and his team made a championship record with the timing of 3:12.7 and missed the world record narrowly.

In his second race, Phelps set his first world record in the Championships in the 200-meter freestyle. He finished it with the timing of 1:43.86 and broke Ian Thorpe’s six-year world record.

In the 200-meter butterfly event, which was his third race, Phelps won the gold medal with the record timing of 1:52.09 and beat his own world record.

Phelps set his third world record in the 200-meter individual medley with the timing of 1:54.98 and bettered his own record time of 1:55.84. It was his fourth race in the championship.

His fifth medal in the championship came from 4×200 meter freestyle relay and his team beat the previous world record set by Australia.

In his sixth race, Phelps finished the 100-meter butterfly with the timing of 50.82 and won his sixth gold medal.

Phelps won his seventh gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley in the record time of 4:06.22. He broke the six-gold medal record of Ian Thorpe which Thorpe made at the 2001 World Championships.

As the 4×100 meter medley team met with a faulty start, Phelps missed the chance of winning his eighth gold medal.

Michael Phelps in 2008 Summer Olympics

Michael Phelps in Beijing Olympics

Trials

Michael Phelps took part in six individual events in the 2008 U.S. Olympic team trials. In the 400-meter individual medley, which was the first event, he broke his own record of 4:06.22 with a time of 4:05.25.

In the second event, Phelps won the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 1:44.10. Subsequently in the 100-meter freestyle, Phelps finished second.

Then, Phelps won the 200-meter butterfly, which was his fourth event. He won it with a time of 1:52.20.

In his fifth event which was the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps broke his own world record and made it in a time of 1:54.80.

Phelps went on to win his sixth and final event, the 100-meter butterfly, with a time of 50.89.

Olympics in Beijing

Michael Phelps with the U.S. Flag

In the preliminary heats of the 400-meter individual medley, Phelps set a new Olympic record and in the final, he broke his previous world record by two seconds.

Then he won the gold medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay when his team finished it with the time of 3:08.24.

Phelps broke his previous world record by nearly a second in the 200-meter freestyle and won his third gold medal. He set his third world record in the Olympics with the time of 1:42.96.

In this race, he became the fifth athlete in the modern Olympics to win nine gold medals.

Phelps participated in two finals the next day. In the first event, the 200-meter butterfly, he made it in the timing of 1:52.03 and won his fourth gold medal.

With this medal, the total tally of ten gold medals made him the leader in individual gold medals in the modern Olympic era.

He also became the first swimmer to win three Olympic butterfly titles.

Then in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, Phelps swam the lead leg. His team won the race and he got his fifth gold medal.

Next, he swam 200-meter individual medley with a world record time of 1:54.23 and won his sixth gold medal.

In the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps beat the Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic, who involved in a pre-competition fight with words. He won it by 0.01 seconds and Serbians went for a protest. Then Phelps’ victory was officially confirmed.

Later Cavic wrote in his blog, “People, this is the greatest moment of my life. If you ask me, it should be accepted and we should move on. I’ve accepted defeat, and there’s nothing wrong with losing to the greatest swimmer there has ever been.”

When he won his eighth gold medal after his team finished first in the 4×100 meter medley relay, Phelps broke Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals in a single Olympic Games. The record stood from the year 1972.

Michael Phelps in 2009 World championships

Michael Phelps with trophies on both hands
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At the 2009 National Championships, Phelps preferred to swim only in three events. And he finished first in the 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter butterfly and also won the 100-meter butterfly with a world record.

Consequently, in the 2009 World Aquatic Championships, Phelps won five gold medals and one silver medal.

His team won the 4×100-meter freestyle relay and he got his first gold medal in the event.

He lost the 200-meter freestyle and won the silver medal. And he lost his first race in four years.

Phelps managed the loss and finished the third race in the event, the 200-meter butterfly, with the time of 1:51.51 and broke his own world record.

In the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, his team won the gold medal and broke the record set in the previous year. And Phelps won the fourth gold medal in the tournament.

In the fifth race that was the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps won the gold medal and became the first man to complete it under 50 seconds.

Next event in the tournament was 4×100-meter medley relay and his team won the gold medal with the world record timing of 3:27.28

Michael Phelps in 2010 Pan Pacific Championships

Michael Phelps with gold medal

At the 2010 National Championships, Phelps competed in five individual events.

Phelps completed the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 1:45.61 and won it. Then, he won the 200-meter butterfly event. In the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps won the 50th national title. But he finished second in the 200-meter individual medley. Finally, in the 200-meter backstroke, Phelps finished in fourth place.

In the 2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, Phelps didn’t participate in the 200-meter freestyle and he wanted to focus on the 200-meter butterfly.

He won the 200-meter butterfly with the timing of 1:54.11 which was much slower than his previous best. From the year 2002, he hasn’t lost any 200-meter butterfly final.

Then, Phelps swam in the heats of the 400-meter individual medley and also in the 4×200 meter freestyle relay.

In the 4×200 meter freestyle relay, Phelps and his team won the race and finished ahead of Japan and Australia.

Phelps swam in the 100-meter butterfly and in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay. He won the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 50.86. And that was a championship record.

2011 World championships

Michael Phelps holding a trophy
Image Source:https://www.npr.org/

Phelps started this championship with a bronze in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

In his second event, the 200-meter freestyle, Phelps won the silver medal with a time of 1:44.79.

Then in the 200-meter butterfly, he won the gold medal with the time of 1:53.34. Thus he became the first swimmer to win five gold medals in the same discipline at the World Aquatics Championships.

In the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps finished second. Next, in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, his team won the gold medal with the time of 7:02.67

He won the third consecutive title in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 50.71. And his team won the final event, the 4×100-meter medley relay, with the time of 3:32.06.

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Michael Phelps in 2012 Summer Olympics

Trials

Before the trials for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Phelps said that he didn’t want to compete in all eight events and instead start to try new things. But in the qualifying meet, he got selected for the same eight events that he swam in Beijing in 2008.

Then he decided to drop the 200-meter freestyle and wanted to focus on the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

In the trials, Phelps finished first in the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley, and second in the 400-meter individual medley.

It became his fourth Olympic appearance and made the record for the most Olympic appearances in swimming representing the U.S.

Michael Phelps in Olympics in London

Michael Phelps showing his gold medal

In the 100m butterfly heat, at the 50m split, Phelps was at the eight positions but won it and qualified for the semifinals.

In the finals of the 400-meter individual medley, Phelps finished fourth and it was the first time he failed to win a medal in the Olympic event after 2000.

Phelps swam the fastest leg in the U.S. team when it won the silver medal in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay.

In the 200-meter butterfly, he finished second and won the silver medal. Next, he earned another gold medal when the U.S. team won the 4×200-meter freestyle relay. And he became the all-time record holder for most Olympic medals.

Phelps won his next gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley with a time of 1:54.27 and became the first male swimmer to win the same event at three consecutive Olympics.

He went on and repeated the feat of winning three consecutive gold medals in the same event when he won the Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly.

The final event in the tournament was the 4×10-meter medley relay and Phelps won his 18th gold medal. And he finished the 2012 Olympics as a successful swimmer with 4 gold and 2 silver medals.

After his last event in the Olympics 2012, the international swimming federation FINA honored him with an award for being the most decorated Olympian ever.

First retirement of Michael Phelps

After the 2012 Olympics, Phelps announced his retirement and stated that “I just wanted to be done with swimming and didn’t want anything to do with the sport anymore.”

2014-Return to Swimming

2014 Pan Pacific Championships

In April of 2014, Phelps announced his willingness to return back to swimming and said that he would participate in an event later that month.

In May 2014, he participated in the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte, North Carolina, and won the 100-meter butterfly event.

After his return, he concentrated more on fitness and by the time the 2016 Olympics was approaching, he felt physically stronger in the water because of the drills Bowman added to his pool workouts.

2015 US Nationals

Phelps competed in the US National Championships in San Antonio and won gold medals in the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, and the 200-meter individual medley.

In December 2015, Phelps won titles in the same three events in the Winter Nationals in Federal Way.

Michael Phelps in 2016 Summer Olympics

Trials

In the trials for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Phelps won the 200-meter butterfly, the 200-meter individual medley and the 100-meter butterfly events.

And he became the first American male swimmer to qualify for the Olympics for the fifth time.

Olympics-Rio de Janeiro

Michael Phelps waving his hand to the spectators

In this Olympics, Phelps was chosen as the American Flagbearer for the opening ceremony. It was his first opening ceremony to attend and he was also voted as Captain of the Olympic team.

In his first event, which was a 4×100-meter freestyle relay, he won the gold medal and it was his 19th overall Olympic gold medal. In the relay, Phelps achieved a split time of 47.12 which was faster than his previous timings in the past three Olympics.

He won the 200-meter butterfly by edging out the runner-up with 0.04 seconds. In this event, he regained the title that he lost in the previous Olympics and he later stated that winning this title was the main goal of his comeback.

With this victory, Phelps became the oldest individual champion in Olympic Swimming History.

When the relay team won the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, Phelps won his 21st gold medal in the Olympics. It was his fourth consecutive gold medal in the event and became an all-time record in swimming for any event.

In the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps beat Kosuke Hagino by 1.95 seconds and won the gold medal. It was his 22nd gold medal in the Olympics and he became the first swimmer to win the same individual event four times.

And also, it was his 13th individual gold medal and with that Phelps broke a 2,168-year-old record held by Leonidas of Rhodes who won twelve individual gold medals.

In the 100-meter butterfly, he finished second and shared the silver medal with Chad le Clos and László Cseh.

Then came the final event of his career, the 4×100-meter relay, and his team won the event. Michael Phelps won his 23rd gold in the Olympics.

After the successful 2016 Olympics, Phelps announced his retirement from swimming.

His winning of gold medals in the Olympics at the age of 31 was a rare feat and Phelps is considered as one of the greatest Olympians of all time.

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