36ºF

Who is... Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, is making his fifth Olympic appearance at the 2016 Rio Games - the most experience of anyone on the U.S. swimming roster in 2016.

Swimming beginnings

Phelps was born June 30, 1985, in Baltimore, Md. and followed his two older sisters into the pool when he was 7 years old. Phelps' first Olympic Trials was in 1996, as a spectator, watching his sister Whitney finish sixth in the 200m butterfly - an event Michael would come to dominate - and miss out on making the team.

Major competitions/ medals

Phelps was the youngest swimmer to represent the U.S. in an Olympic Games in 68 years when he made his debut at the 2000 Sydney Games at age 15. He was second at Trials in the 200m butterfly behind Tom Malchow, but it was enough to punch a ticket to Sydney, where he finished fifth overall.

At the 2004 Athens Games, Phelps picked up eight medals (six gold, two bronze) and his first individual Olympic titles in the 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley (IM), and 400m IM. One of Phelps' bronze medals came from what later became known as "The Race of the Century," the 200m freestyle final featuring Australia's Ian Thorpe (gold) and the Netherlands' Pieter van den Hoogenband (silver). Phelps out touched world record holder and countryman Ian Crocker for gold in the 100m butterfly.

Phelps went eight for eight in Beijing, winning gold in each event he entered: 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m IM, 400m IM, 4x100m free relay, 4x200m free relay, and 4x100m medley relay. Phelps became the first athlete to win eight gold medals in a single Olympic Games and set seven world records along the way. Jason Lezak's remarkable anchor leg in the 4x100m freestyle relay to claim the title over the French by .08 seconds kept Phelps' dream alive, as did his outstanding performance in the 200m butterfly final, where his goggles filled with water. In another dramatic event, the 100m butterfly, Phelps out touched Serbia's Milorad Cavic by 0.01 seconds.

In London, Phelps earned his 19th medal, a gold as part of the 4x200m freestyle relay alongside Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Conor Dwyer. He left London with five more medals (three gold and two silver), bringing his total to 22, of which 18 are gold.

Breakout moment

Though he competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics - and finished fifth in the 200m butterfly, his only event - his breakout Olympic moment was at the 2004 Athens Games. Phelps bagged eight medals (six gold and two bronze), which tied Soviet gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin for most medals won at a single Games. It was a feat he would later top at the 2008 Games, bringing home eight gold medals.

Records held

Olympic records:

200m freestyle            1:42.96            2008 Beijing Olympics

100m butterfly             50.58               2008 Beijing Olympics

200m butterfly             1:52.03            2008 Beijing Olympics

200m IM                      1:54.23            2008 Beijing Olympics

400m IM                      4:03.84            2008 Beijing Olympics

4x100m freestyle relay with Garret Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak
                                    3:08.24            2008 Beijing Olympics

4x200m freestyle relay with Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay
                                    6:58.56            2008 Beijing Olympics

4x100m medley relay with Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen and Jason Lezak
                                    3:29.34            2008 Beijing Olympics

World records:

100m butterfly             49.82               2009 World Championships

200m butterfly             1:51.51            2009 World Championships

400m IM                      4:03.84            2008 Beijing Olympics

4x100m freestyle relay with Garret Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak
                                    3:08.24            2008 Beijing Olympics

4x200m freestyle relay with Ricky Berens, David Walters and Ryan Lochte
                                    6:58.55            2009 World Championships

4x100m medley relay with Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau and David Walters
                                    3:27.28            2009 World Championships

American records:

200m freestyle            1:42.96            2008 Beijing Olympics

100m butterfly             49.82               2009 World Championships

200m butterfly             1:51.51            2009 World Championships

400m IM                      4:03.84            2008 Beijing Olympics

4x100m freestyle relay with Garret Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak
                        3:08.24            2008 Beijing Olympics

4x200m freestyle relay with Ricky Berens, David Walters and Ryan Lochte
                        6:58.55            2009 World Championships

4x100m medley relay with Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau and David Walters
                        3:27.28            2009 World Championships

Records he's chasing

Besides records in the pool, Phelps can chase down other records at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

By qualifying for Rio, Phelps breaks his current tie with Jason Lezak for most Olympic berths by a male U.S. swimmer (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016). Olympian Dara Torres also swam in five Games, but they were not consecutive (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008).

He could become the athlete with the most career individual Olympic medals. Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina owns 14 career individual medals, while Phelps owns 13 (plus nine relay medals). By winning one of any color, Phelps would tie that record, and winning two medals would let him stand alone as the owner of the most career individual Olympic medals.

Phelps could share the record for consecutive titles in the same individual event at four. He's won three consecutive gold medals in the 100m butterfly and the 200m IM. Americans Al Oerter (discus) and Carl Lewis (long jump) each won four consecutive Olympic titles. Paul Elvstroem of Denmark won four consecutive sailing titles, though his one-person event changed from a Firefly boat to the Finn during that streak.

Signature

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. He made history in 2004 by tying the record for most medals won in a single Games (eight). He trumped that feat in 2008 by winning an unprecedented eight gold medals in a single Games. In 2012, he accumulated a total 22 Olympic medals, the most of any athlete.

He is known for his signature come from behind finishes, non-responses to trash talk from across the globe, and both foreign and domestic rivalries.

Top quotes

"Watching the President of the United States across the pool as Michael swam the 400m IM [in Beijing 2008], watching him wave the flag, watching him make eye contact with my child--that was very special," Debbie Phelps, Michael's mother, told Parenting.com

"He's the hardest racer in the world. He'll go toe to toe with you in any event, and I love that, because it's a challenge whenever you go up on those blocks with him. That's going to be the big show, and I'm just glad he's back," rival Ryan Lochte told Reuters in 2015

"When you see the intensity that Michael Phelps approaches his training with, the expectation he places on himself you want to make sure you go back and do everything right. That's given me more clarity about what I need to do to be competitive," Australian Olympic champion Grant Hackett told Agence France-Presse

Outside the pool

Phelps moved to Arizona when longtime coach Bob Bowman was named the head coach of the Arizona State University swim team for the 2015-16 season and beyond. While his home club remains the North Baltimore Aquatic Club ("NBAC"), he joked in an interview that the crew calls themselves "NBAC Southwest" while training in Arizona. Phelps previously trained in a college setting leading up to the 2008 Games, when Bowman coached at the University of Michigan.

Phelps noted one of the benefits of moving to Arizona was the constant sunshine and various golf opportunities. After competing in London, Phelps considered getting serious about the sport, but decided to keep it as a hobby.

In February 2015, Phelps proposed to longtime girlfriend Nicole Johnson, the 2010 Miss California USA. Training partner Allison Schmitt was on site to capture the moment and share on social media. Johnson and Phelps will welcome a son in May 2016.

The Michael Phelps Foundation, created with the bonus money he received from sponsors for winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, promotes increased participation in health and fitness activities for children through the IM program. The foundation also focuses on outreach programs getting children to be water safe.

Phelps released several books between Olympic appearances. After Athens, "Beneath the Surface: My Story" was printed. "No Limits: The Will to Succeed" and "How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals," a children's book, were released after Phelps' Beijing domination. His mother, Debbie Phelps, released a parenting book in 2009 titled "A Mother for All Seasons."

Social media

Facebook: @MichaelPhelps

Twitter: @MichaelPhelps

Instagram: @M_Phelps00