Michael Phelps has more Olympic medals than anyone else
As the athlete with the most medals in Olympic history, Michael Phelps exemplifies what can be accomplished when one combines natural ability with hard work and determination. His openness about his own struggles with mental health has gained attention for and given hope to many outside of the swimming world. Phelps' legacy will go on for years to come, just like the Olympic motto itself: "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Faster, Higher, Stronger).
Michael Phelps, nicknamed "The Flying Fish," is the all-time Olympic medal winner. The incredible career of the American swimmer is studded with historic races and a record-breaking number of medals. Here, we explore how Phelps went from a nervous kid to an unstoppable force in the swimming world.
Developing an Innate Connection
Phelps started swimming when he was seven years old. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1985. Having a wingspan three inches greater than his height and double-jointed elbows and ankles were only a couple of the exceptional physical features that hinted at his potential, along with his innate fondness for water. Phelps, who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, was able to find peace and discipline via swimming.
Phelps broke records from the get-go in his swimming career, becoming the youngest guy to make a U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years when he qualified for his first Olympics at age 15. Phelps, though, made his international debut at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. His total of six gold and two bronze medals was the second greatest ever won at a single Olympic competition.
Phelps had one of the best Olympic performances ever, earning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. He became one of the best swimmers of all time by breaking Mark Spitz's Olympic record of seven gold medals.
Phelps' dominance at the Olympics continued with five gold medals and one silver medal during the 2016 Rio Games. His final count of medals from all five Olympics is an astounding 23 golds, 3 silvers, and 2 bronzes.
Struggles and Advocacy Away from the Pool
Phelps's path was not a smooth one. He had two DUI charges, and he also struggled with anxiety and despair. However, he turned his challenges into a platform to fight for mental health and physical wellness by founding the Michael Phelps Foundation.
Michael Phelps has irrevocably impacted swimming as we know it. The limits of swimming performance have been pushed to new heights by his extraordinary body, powerful stroke, and dogged pursuit of excellence. He inspired a new wave of swimmers and helped turn swimming into a mainstream sport.