Michael Phelps also known as ‘The Baltimore Bullet’ and the ‘Flying Fish’ is a retired American swimmer who holds the record for the most Olympics medals won by any athlete at 28, including 23 gold medals and 13 individual golds. He was the first American male swimmer to earn a spot on five Olympic teams and also made history as the oldest individual gold medalist in Olympic swimming history at the age of 28.
Michael Phelp’s Early Life
Phelps was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of nearby Towson. He attended Rodgers Forge Elementary, Dumbarton Middle School, and Towson High School. Phelps is the youngest of three children. He graduated from Towson High School in 2003.
Phelps began swimming when his two older sisters, Whitney (born in 1978) and Hilary (born in 1980), joined a local swim team. Whitney tried out for the U.S. Olympic team in 1996, at the age of 15, but injuries derailed her career. At age seven, Phelps was still “a little scared” to put his head under water, so his instructors allowed him to float around on his back. Not surprisingly, the first stroke he mastered was the backstroke.
After he saw swimmers Tom Malchow and Tom Dolan compete at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Phelps began to dream of becoming a champion. He launched his swimming career at the Loyola High School pool. He met his coach, Bob Bowman, when he started training at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club at the Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center. The coach immediately recognized Phelps’ talents and fierce sense of competition and began an intense training regime together. By 1999, Phelps had made the U.S. National B Team.
Michael Phelps Career
2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney
At the age of 15, Phelps became the youngest American male swimmer to compete at an Olympic Games in 68 years. While he didn’t win a medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, he would soon become a major force in competitive swimming.
First World Records
In the spring of 2001, Phelps set the world record in the 200-meter butterfly, becoming the youngest male swimmer in history (at 15 years and 9 months) to ever set a world swimming record.
Phelps then broke his own record at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, with a time of 1:54:58, earning his first international medal.
Phelps continued to set new marks at the 2002 U.S. Summer Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, establishing a new world record for the 400-meter individual medley, and U.S. records in the 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter individual medley. The following year, at the same event, he broke his own world record in the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:09.09.
Shortly after graduating from Towson in 2003, 17-year-old Phelps set five world records, including the 200-meter individual medley at the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, with a time of 1:56:04. Then during the U.S. trials for the 2004 Summer Olympics, he broke his own world record again in the 400 meter individual medley, with a time of 4:08:41.
Michael Phelps’ Medals and Records
Michael Phelps has accumulated a total of 28 medals at the Olympic Summer Games in Athens, Beijing, London and Rio — 23 gold, three silver and two bronze — setting the record for the most medal wins by any Olympic athlete. At the 2016 Olympic Games, he won one silver and five gold medals, becoming the oldest individual gold medalist in Olympic swimming history, as well as the first swimmer to win four consecutive golds in the same event, the 200-meter individual medley. Phelps has set 39 world records, the most of all time.
Michael Phelps’ Top Speed
When he broke the world record in the 100-meter butterfly at the 2009 World Championships, Michael Phelps swam at an astonishingly speedy (or at least by human standards) 5.5 miles per hour. ESPN has put Phelps’ top swimming speed at 6 miles per hour.
Michael Phelps’ Diet and Daily Calories
During an interview in the midst of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps told NBC that he ate 12,000 calories per day to fuel his five-hour, six-days-per-week training leading up to the Games. His diet reportedly consisted of hefty choices like two pounds of pasta and entire pizzas.
“Eat, sleep and swim. That’s all I can do. Get some calories into my system and try to recover the best I can,” Phelps said at the time.
However in June 2017, he cleared up his eating habits:
“Don’t believe everything you read. The stories were just ridiculous. I was probably eating anywhere between like 8 to 10 [thousand] probably at my peak where I was really growing. Still, it became a job,” he said at an event in New York City.
Michael Phelps’ Books
In addition to his successful swim career, Phelps has written two books, Beneath the Surface: My Story (2008) and No Limits: The Will to Succeed (2009).
Swim with the Stars
Phelps co-founded the nonprofit organization Swim with the Stars, which holds camps for swimmers of all ages.