Michael Phelps was born in Towson, Maryland on June 30, 1985. Phelps was initially fearful of putting his face in the water. However, he overcame this discomfort and, in 1996, was inspired by the performances of Tom Malchow and Tom Dolan during the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Shortly afterwards he joined the North Baltimore Athletic Club, where he met Bob Bowman – his coach.
Michael Phelps is known as the most decorated Olympian of all times, with a total of 23 Olympic medals won in three Olympic Games. He is known for his formidable butterfly, though he also specializes in individual medleys and the 100 and 200-meter freestyle.
Although Phelps struggled in school, he focused when it came to swimming. In 2000, Phelps qualified in the 200-meter butterfly in Sydney, Australia. At 15, he was the youngest male Olympian the United States had had in about 70 years.
The next year, during World Championship Trials at the Phillips 66 Nationals, Phelps broke his first world record in the 200-metre fly. He became the youngest male swimmer to break a World Record – a title previously held by none other than Ian Thorpe, who broke the 400-metre freestyle World Record at 16 years and 10 months of age. Phelps went to the 2001 World Championships in Japan, where he broke his record again.
In the following years, he proved himself on multiple occasions as not only a butterfly wonder, but also a freestyle and backstroke expert. At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 he won six gold and two bronze medals. He was 19 years-old.
During the period between the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, Phelps won a number of world records.
In 2007, he announced his plans to beath the record held by Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals in the 1972 Munich Games. The 4×100 medley relay team was disqualified, and did not compete in the final. Phelps, however, won seven other events, five of them in world record time.
In the months before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, neither Mark Spitz nor Ian Thorpe expressed support or belief in Phelps. He, however, proved them wrong, blasting competition out of the water eight times in a row, including two relay events. He beat Serbian Milorad Čavić in the 100 fly by 0.01 seconds. The athletes touched so close that the final result required scrutiny of the playback video, and caused a wild controversy in the swimming world.
So, eight of his 18 gold medals were won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where Phelps took Spitz’s record.
At the 2009 World Championships in Rome there were rumors that he was out of shape and out of mind. Phelps lost his first race in four years to relative newcomer, Paul Biedermann. Phelps went on to beat Čavić in the 100-meter butterfly for a second time. Despite controversy and public doubt, Phelps returned from Rome with six international medals.
After the 2009 World Championships, full-body, textile suits were banned by FINA, and Phelps’ world record streak slowed. He had stated that he did not want to swim past the age of 30, and that the 2012 Olympics Games would be his last. With help from his mother and from the ever-persistent Coach Bowman, Phelps pushed aside his reluctance. He used the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai to boost his confidence and prime his skills. Two silver medals earned behind Ryan Lochte, and third place in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay caused concern. Phelps also won four gold medals, including his fifth 200-meter butterfly championship, and steadied his focus on London.
Michael Phelps' performance at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics made experts to consider him as the greatest ever Olympian. He has surpassed the records of Mark Spitz and Johnny Weissmuller. Phelps’ best events are the individual medleys. At the 2004 Olympic Games, Michael Phelps became the second athlete, after Aleksandr Dityatin won eight medals at a single Olympics, and he repeatd this in 2008 at Beijing. Phelps had attempted to win gold medals in eight swimming events in 2004, to better Mark Spitz's performance at München. Phelps did not manage that but did win six gold medals (four individual) and two bronze medals. He followed this with a dominating performance at the 2005 World Championships at which he won five gold medals and a silver medal. He had also won five World Championship gold medals at the 2003 meet.
After Beijing, Phelps took some time off but he still won five gold medals and six medals at the 2009 World Championships. He won another five golds at the 2010 Pan-Pacs, and in 2011, won four gold medals and seven medals at the Worlds, setting him up for the 2012 Olympics, and giving him a total of 33 medals and 26 gold medals at the World Championships.
At London in 2012, Phelps cemented his title as the world's greatest swimmer and as the world greatest Olympian.
Gold medal No. 20, which came on 09.08.2016 in the 200-meter butterfly. Phelps beat Japan's Masato Sakai by just four-hundredths of a second.
Michael won gold medal No. 21 on 09.08.2016 at the Rio Olympics, anchoring the U.S. in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay.
For Britain, who had qualified first for the final, James Guy overhauled Takeshi Matsuda on the final leg to take the silver in 7:03.13, with Japan clocking 7:03.50 for the bronze.
It was Britain's first medal in the event since they won a bronze in 1984 and this made up for Guy's disappointment in failing to pick up a medal in the 200m and 400m freestyle.
But the night belonged to the Americans and Phelps.
“I’m 30 years old and swimming almost faster than I ever have before,” he warned.
There was no doubt about Phelps' level of focus before this race. Television cameras showed the American before the start while rival Chad le Clos got loose in front of him. Le Clos beat Phelps in the 200m butterfly final at the 2012 Olympics.