Michael Phelps is an American former competitive swimmer and the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals.
Phelps also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals, Olympic gold medals in individual events, and Olympic medals in individual events.
When he won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, Phelps broke fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven first-place finishes at any single Olympic Games.
At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Phelps had already tied the record of eight medals of any color at a single Games by winning six gold and two bronze medals.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Phelps won four gold and two silver medals, and at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he won five gold medals and one silver. This made him the most successful athlete of the Games for the fourth Olympics in a row.
- Full name: Michael Fred Phelps II
- Profession: American swimmer
- Born: 30 June 1985 (age 34 years), Baltimore, Maryland, United States
- Height: 1.93 m
- Shoe size: 14
- Spouse: Nicole Johnson (m. 2016)
- Olympic medals: Swimming at the 2008 Summer Olympics – Men’s 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay
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About Michael Phelps
Phelps was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in the Rodgers Forge neighbourhood of nearby Towson.
He attended Rodgers Forge Elementary, Dumbarton Middle School, and Towson High School. Phelps is the youngest of three children.
His mother, Deborah Sue “Debbie” Phelps (née Davisson), is a middle school principal. His father, Michael Fred Phelps, is a retired Maryland State Trooper who played football in high school and college and tried out for the Washington Redskins in the 1970s.
Phelps is of English, German, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent. His parents divorced in 1994, when he was nine years old, and his father remarried in 2000.
Phelps later revealed that the divorce had a severe negative impact on him and his siblings, and his relationship with his father was distant for a few years after the divorce. He graduated from Towson High School in 2003.
Phelps began swimming at the age of seven, partly because of the influence of his sisters and partly to provide him with an outlet for his energy.
After retirement in 2016, he stated “The only reason I ever got in the water was my mom wanted me to just learn how to swim.
My sisters and myself fell in love with the sport, and we decided to swim.” When Phelps was in the sixth grade, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
By the age of 10, he held a national record for his age group (in the 100-meter butterfly) and began to train at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under coach Bob Bowman.
More age group records followed, and as of August 21, 2018, Phelps still held 11 age group records, eight in long course, and three in short course.
Phelps is the long course world record holder in the men’s 400-meter individual medley as well as the former long course world record holder in the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, and 200-meter individual medley.
He has won 82 medals in major international long course competitions, of which 65 were gold, 14 silver, and three bronze, spanning the Olympics, the World Championships, and the Pan Pacific Championships.
Phelps’s international titles and record-breaking performances have earned him the World Swimmer of the Year Award eight times and American Swimmer of the Year Award eleven times, as well as the FINA Swimmer of the Year Award in 2012 and 2016.
Phelps earned Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportsman of the Year award due to his unprecedented Olympic success in the 2008 Games.
After the 2008 Summer Olympics, Phelps started the Michael Phelps Foundation, which focuses on growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthier lifestyles.
Phelps retired following the 2012 Olympics, but he made a comeback in April 2014. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, his fifth Olympics, he was selected by his team to be the flag bearer of the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics Parade of Nations.
He announced his second retirement on August 12, 2016, having won more medals than 161 countries. He is often considered the greatest swimmer of all time.