Michael Phelps: the Record Man

Let's take a look at Michael Phelps, the famous Olympic gold medalist and swimmer who broke many records.
Michael Phelps: the Record Man

Last update: 14 December, 2019

Michael Phelps is a swimmer whose broken all of the Olympic Records and has retired from competing. It’ll be a long time before anyone will be able to catch up to him. Learn about his athletic journey in this article!

“The shark of Baltimore” is the most successful athlete in the history of the Olympic Games. During his career, he’s won no less than 29 medals, 23 of them being gold. In this article, we’ll tell you about Michael Phelps, the record man.

The first steps of Michael Phelps

The first time the world found out about Michael Phelps, the United States athlete, was in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. That time, he stood out for being the youngest in history. Only being 15 years old, he participated in one of the most important sports. However, he didn’t come home with a medal.

Far from worrying about that, Phelps competed in the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan and broke a record in the 200-meter butterfly stroke. In the national championships of 2002 in Florida, he continued to break records in the 400-meter race, the 100-meter butterfly, and the 200-meter styles.

Previously, he won gold medals in Yokohama, Japan in 2002, and Barcelona, Spain in 2004 in the 200 and 400 combine meters, 200-meter butterfly, and the 4 x 100 meter combined.

The beginning of the Phelps era in the Olympic Games

Even though he participated in Sidney, it was the Athens 2004 event that made him a star. He competed in eight races and took home six gold medals and two bronze medals!

That means that he was on the podium for all of the competitions that he competed in. Not just that, but he also broke another world record for the combined 400 meters.

Photo of Phelps swimming in the race, which supports the text

In that competition, Michael Phelps was only a teenager but he showed that he had won himself an important place in Olympic history. Moreover, he became the second swimmer to win more than two individual races. The first was Mark Spitz, who won four.

The successes followed a year later in the World Championship in Montreal. But, in his third Olympics in Peking in 2008, Michael returned to make history. This time he won eight gold medals, five individuals and three for relays.

Something very interesting is that in all of these contests, he broke world records, including one Olympic record in the 100-meter butterfly. At the same time, he superseded the golden man, Mark Spitz, ex-swimmer from the US.

In the London Olympic Games of 2012, Michael was also one of the most important athletes, even though his individual performances weren’t completely satisfactory. All in all, he went home with six medals, four gold, and two silver.

Total glory

While Michael had officially announced his retirement after London, he returned to compete in Río de Janerio in 2016. Consequently, he did well and won five gold medals and one silver medal. Thus, he became the “record man” of the Olympics. He won 23 gold medals in total. 

What’s more, he won two golds in a span of a half an hour! He competed in the 200-meter individual butterfly and then in the 4 x 200 relay. Literally, this was winning one medal after the other.

Michael Phelps has accumulated too many records throughout his career not to mention them. Besides being a major gold medalist, he’s also an athlete with the most medals in individual events (13) and in men’s events (15). 

Photo showing Phelps in retirement to follow the text.

Michael Phelps in retirement

After participating in the Olympic Games from 2004 to 2016,  Michael retired from sports at only 31 years of age. He has a foundation that focuses on the development of swimming and promotes a healthy lifestyle

Beyond sports, it’s worth mentioning that he suffers from Marfan syndrome.  This is a condition that affects growth and has caused his arms to be longer than normal. 

According to his biography, it turns out that he was afraid of water, but decided to swim to distance himself from family problems. He’s become an icon for the history of the sport. Since he was very young, his teachers and trainers knew that he was going to be great, as great as the 28 Olympic medals that he won, and the dozens of records that he broke.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • People, I. Y., & Janeiro, I. N. R. I. O. D. E. (2003). Michael Phelps. Swimming World & Junior Swimmer.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.