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 (23), Olympic gold medals in individual events (13), and Olympic medals in individual events (16). 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.
Phelps was born June 30, 1985 in Maryland to a mother who is a middle school principal and a father who almost made a professional football team. Phelps won six gold and two bronze medals at the Olympics held in Athens in 2004. He was a perfect 8 for 8 in Beijing bringing in eight gold medals in 2008. In London he gained 4 more Golds, a Silver, and a Bronze. He holds the record for the most gold medals won in a single Olympic year, breaking the record of American swimmer Mark Spitz who won seven gold medals in Munich in 1972. His total medal count of 22 is also a record. Soviet gymnast Larissa Lalynina who won 18 medals over three Olympics including nine gold ones is a distant second.
Phelps has won many awards including World Swimmer of the Year six times and American Swimmer of the Year Award eight times. He has taken part in many international competitions and has won 59 medals from these competitions. Of these, 50 were gold, seven silver, and two bronze. In addition, Michael Phelps received the Sportsman of the Year Award from Sports Illustrated magazine.
Phelps heads the Michael Phelps Foundation which was established to promote healthy lifestyles and the sport of swimming. He is regularly tested for drugs since he is a member of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and their “Project Believe” program. Testing is to ensure that his body is free from performance-enhancing drugs. During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Phelps was suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs because of his superior performance in the competitions, but he tested negative nine times.
Far from the familiar waters of an Olympic pool, Michael Phelps recently shared the story of his personal encounter with depression at a mental health conference in Chicago. "You do contemplate suicide," the winner of 28 Olympic medals told a hushed audience at the fourth annual conference of the Kennedy Forum, a behavioral health advocacy group. Interviewed at the conference by political strategist David Axelrod (who is a senior political commentator for CNN), Phelps' 20-minute discussion highlighted his battle against anxiety, depression. and suicidal thoughts -- and some questions about his athletic prowess.
At six feet, four inches, Phelps’ body seems to be made for swimming. His long torso and arm span of six feet, seven inches help him paddle through the water quickly and efficiently. His arm span is longer than expected for a person of his height. Also, he has short legs that also enable him to swim quickly. His size 14 feet act as flippers. Phelps can extend his ankles more than a ballet dancer would be expected to do, and this helps him flip his feet through the water at great speed.
Bob Bowman, Phelps’ swimming coach, has trained Phelps since he was 11 years old. Bowman previously swam for Florida State University. Bob plans on carrying on the tradition of American swimming dominance as Michael's coach going into Rio 2016.
In February 2015, Phelps proposed to girlfriend Nicole Johnson. In May 2016, Phelps and his fiancee became parents to a baby boy they named Boomer Robert Phelps.