In his second event on August 9, the 200-meter butterfly, he became the first swimmer in history to make five finals in the same event, after finishing 5th in 2000, 1st in 2004 and 2008, and 2nd in 2012. At Rio, he won the title that he had lost to Chad le Clos four years earlier in London, edging Masato Sakai by 0.04 s. Phelps stated that winning back this title had been the main goal during his comeback. The preliminary and final of that event was heavily hyped as a rematch between Phelps and Le Clos. The relationship between Le Clos and Phelps had been cordial back in 2012–13 but it deteriorated in 2014 when Phelps came back from retirement and suggested that the current butterfly times were slow. In the ready room prior to the preliminary race, Le Clos's shadow boxing while Phelps "glowered in a corner" spawned the Internet meme with the hashtag #PhelpsFace. Le Clos's Wikipedia biography was even vandalized after the event final. At age 31, the victory made Phelps not only the oldest male champion, but also the oldest individual champion in Olympic swimming history, beating the records set by Duke Kahanamoku in 1920, and Inge de Bruijn in 2004 respectively. Phelps also became the first swimmer to win individual gold medals 12 years apart. Both these records were broken by Anthony Ervin three days later.
Phelps' rapid improvement culminated when he qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the age of 15, as he became the youngest male (since Ralph Flanagan in 1932) to make a U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years. While he did not win a medal, he did make the finals and finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly.
Michael Fred Phelps II (born June 30, 1985) 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 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. His mother, Deborah Sue "Debbie" Phelps (née Davisson), is a middle school principal. His father, Michael Fred Phelps, is a retired Maryland State Trooper who played football in high school and college and tried out for the Washington Redskins in the 1970s. Phelps is of English, German, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent. His parents divorced in 1994 when he was nine years old, and his father remarried in 2000. Phelps later revealed that the divorce had a severe negative impact on him and his siblings, and his relationship with his father was distant for a few years after the divorce. He graduated from Towson High School in 2003.
Phelps was a USA Olympic team member in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, and holds the records for most Olympic gold medals (23), most such medals in individual events (13), and most such medals at a single games (8, in Beijing 2008). A street in his hometown of Baltimore was renamed The Michael Phelps Way in 2004. On April 9, 2009, Phelps was invited to appear before the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate, to be honored for his Olympic accomplishments.
At the 2003 World Aquatics Championships, Phelps won four gold medals, two silver medals, and broke five world records. Phelps broke his first world record on July 22 in the semi-finals for the 200-meter butterfly. Phelps swam a 1:53.93 to break his own world record of 1:54.58 set in 2001 and became the first man to swim under 1:54.00. In the final of the 200-meter butterfly, on July 23, Phelps easily won the gold medal, but did not come close to his world record with a time of 1:54.35. Less than an hour later, Phelps swam the lead-off leg for the 4×200-meter freestyle relay. Phelps put up a solid time of 1:46.60 (an American record) but the Americans could not match the depth of the Australians and ultimately finished second 7:10.26 to 7:08.58. In the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps dominated. On July 24, in the semi-finals of the 200-meter individual medley, he broke his own world record with a time of 1:57.52. On July 25, in the final of the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps smashed his own record with a time of 1:56.04 to win the gold medal and finished almost 3 seconds ahead of Ian Thorpe. About an hour before the final of the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps swam in the semi-finals of the 100-meter butterfly. Phelps dominated again, finishing in the top seed position with a world record time of 51.47. However, in the final of the 100-meter butterfly, on July 26, Ian Crocker erased Phelps's world record with a time of 50.98, to become the first man under 51 seconds. Phelps swam a 51.10 (also under his former world record), but had to settle for silver. In the final of the 400-meter individual medley, on July 27, Phelps broke his own world record with a time of 4:09.09 to easily claim the gold medal. About half an hour later, Phelps earned his final gold medal when the United States team won the 4×100-meter medley relay. Phelps did not swim in the finals, but still earned a medal because he swam in the heats.
At the 2007 World Aquatics Championships, Phelps won seven gold medals, tying the record for a global long-course championship held by Mark Spitz since the 1972 Summer Olympics, and broke five world records. Phelps first gold medal came in the 4×100-meter freestyle. Phelps swam the lead-off leg in 48.42 seconds and Neil Walker, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak each expanded the lead to win in a Championship record of 3:12.72, just missing the world record of 3:12.46 set the previous year. His lead-off time was faster than the winning time in the individual 100-meter freestyle final later in the meet. Phelps set his first world record in the Championships in the 200-meter freestyle, his second race. Phelps won the gold ahead of Pieter van den Hoogenband and broke Ian Thorpe's six-year-old world record with a time of 1:43.86. For his third race, the 200-meter butterfly, Phelps won the gold and bettered his own world record of 1:53.71 with a time of 1:52.09. For his fourth race, the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps set his third world record with a time of 1:54.98, bettering his own world-record time of 1:55.84 For his fifth race, the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, Phelps swam the lead-off leg in 1:45.36 as the American team of Ryan Lochte, Klete Keller, and Peter Vanderkaay went on to win the gold medal and beat the previous world record set by Australia in 2001 with a time 7:03.24. For his sixth race, the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps edged out Ian Crocker 50.77 to 50.82 to win his sixth gold medal. For his seventh event, the 400-meter individual medley, Phelps won the gold medal in a world-record time of 4:06.22, more than 3.5 seconds ahead of Ryan Lochte. By winning seven gold medals, Phelps broke the record of six set by Ian Thorpe at the 2001 World Championships. The 4×100-meter medley relay team received a disqualification for a false start during a changeover in the heats, ending Phelps's chance of eight gold medals.
At the 2006 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Victoria, British Columbia, Phelps won five gold medals and one silver. In his first event, the 200-meter butterfly, Phelps won in a world record time of 1:53.80, his first world record in two years. In his second event, the 400-meter individual medley, Phelps easily won with a time of 4:10.47, 3.38 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Robert Margalis. In his third event, the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, Phelps, along with Ryan Lochte, Peter Vanderkaay, and Klete Keller, won the gold medal with a time of 7:05.28. In his fourth event, the 200-meter backstroke, Phelps won the silver medal, finishing behind Aaron Peirsol 1:56.81 to 1:54.44 (a new world record). In his fifth event, the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, Phelps, along with Neil Walker, Cullen Jones, and Jason Lezak, won the gold medal with a world-record time 3:12.46. In his sixth event, the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps won with a world record time of 1:55.84, breaking his record of 1:55.94 set in 2003.
At age 19 in November 2004, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Salisbury, Maryland. He pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and was sentenced to serve 18 months of probation, fined $250, ordered to speak to high school students about drinking and driving, and to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) meeting. When Phelps was later asked about the incident by Matt Lauer on the Today Show, he said that he had "let a lot of people in the country down."
Unlike all six of his previous events in the 2008 Games, Phelps did not set a new world record, leaving intact Ian Crocker's world-record time of 50.40 seconds, set in 2005.
Even though Phelps competed in the backstroke in international competition only once (at the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships), he was among the best backstroke swimmers in the world. This is illustrated by his personal best times set in 2007, four months after the World Championships. At the US Nationals in Indianapolis on August 1, 2007, Phelps swam a 1:54.65 in the 200-meter backstroke, which was the third fastest of all time in the event, 0.33 of a second off the world record of 1:54.32 held by Ryan Lochte. Two days later Phelps swam a time of 53.01 sec in the 100-meter backstroke, 0.03 of a second short of the world record of 52.98 held by Aaron Peirsol and the second-fastest performance of all time. In 2007 Phelps swam into the all-time top three performances in seven individual events, four of these being world records.
In his first event at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, Phelps won bronze in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay with Garrett Weber-Gale, Jason Lezak, and Nathan Adrian. This was Phelps's first bronze in a World Aquatics Championships. Phelps swam the lead-off leg in 48.08, the second-best lead-off in the field behind James Magnussen's 47.49. In his second event, the 200-meter freestyle, Phelps won silver for the second consecutive time at a World Aquatics Championships. This time he finished second to Ryan Lochte in the event with a time of 1:44.79, compared to Lochte's time of 1:44.44. In his third final, the 200-meter butterfly, he won his first gold medal with a time of 1:53.34 to become the first swimmer to win five gold medals in one discipline at the World Aquatics Championships. In his fourth event, the 200-meter individual medley, Phelps again finished second to Lochte in a personal best of 1:54.16, which was 0.16 behind Lochte who swam a new world record. It was Phelps's 30th medal in the World Aquatics Championships. Shortly after completing the semi-finals of the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps competed in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay with Peter Vanderkaay, Ricky Berens, and Ryan Lochte. Phelps's team won the gold medal in a time of 7:02.67. Phelps swam the lead-off leg in 1:45.53, the third-best leg in the field. In the 100-meter butterfly, Phelps won his third consecutive title (also winning in 2007 and 2009) and second individual title of the meet with a time of 50.71. In his last event, the 4×100-meter medley relay, Phelps teamed with Nick Thoman, Mark Gangloff, and Nathan Adrian to win gold in a time of 3:32.06. Phelps's butterfly leg of 50.57 was by far the fastest butterfly leg in the field.
Phelps is married to former Miss California USA Nicole Johnson. They secretly married on June 13, 2016, and the marriage was not publicly reported until four months later. They met in 2007 at the ESPYs, broke up in 2012, reconciled, and got engaged in February 2015. They have three sons, Boomer Robert Phelps, born on May 5, 2016, Beckett Richard Phelps, born on February 12, 2018, and Maverick Nicolas Phelps, born on September 9, 2019. The family lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona, an affluent town adjoined to Phoenix, where Phelps volunteers alongside Bowman as an assistant coach for the Arizona State Sun Devils swim team.
For the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Phelps originally stated he would never do eight events again, and would instead try new events. Phelps said, "I keep saying I want to go down and start sprinting, but Bob [Bowman, Phelps's coach] really isn't so keen on that ... I don't think that's going to happen ... Over the next four years, I'd like to try some different events, maybe not do some of the events I did here." However, at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials, the qualifying meet for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Phelps qualified in the same eight events that he swam in Beijing in 2008. He later dropped the 200-meter freestyle from his program, as he stated he wanted to focus on the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. During the trials, Phelps finished first in the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley, and second in the 400-meter individual medley. In making his fourth Olympic team, Phelps holds the record for men for the most Olympic appearances in swimming representing the United States.
In February 2009, a photograph of Phelps using a bong went viral; this resulted in the loss of the Kellogg Company as a sponsor, as well as a three-month suspension by USA Swimming. Phelps admitted that the photo, which was taken at a party at the University of South Carolina, was authentic. He publicly apologized, saying his behavior was "inappropriate".
In 2010, the Michael Phelps Foundation, the Michael Phelps Swim School and KidsHealth.org developed and nationally piloted the "im" program for Boys & Girls Club members. The im program teaches children the importance of being active and healthy, with a focus on the sport of swimming. It also promotes the value of planning and goal-setting. im is offered through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and through Special Olympics International. The Foundation has since developed two other programs, Level Field Fund-Swimming and Caps-for-a-Cause.
Phelps is the long course world record holder in the men's 400-meter individual medley as well as the former long course world record holder in the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, and 200-meter individual medley. He has won 82 medals in major international long course competitions, of which 65 were gold, 14 silver, and three bronze, spanning the Olympics, the World Championships, and the Pan Pacific Championships. Phelps's international titles and record-breaking performances have earned him the World Swimmer of the Year Award eight times and American Swimmer of the Year Award eleven times, as well as the FINA Swimmer of the Year Award in 2012 and 2016. Phelps earned Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year award due to his unprecedented Olympic success in the 2008 Games.
On July 28, 2012, Phelps placed eighth in the morning prelims for the 400-meter individual medley. Phelps, the two-time defending Olympic champion, won his heat in 4 minutes, 13.33 seconds with a time that was well off his world record of 4:03.84 set four years ago in Beijing, when Phelps won a record eight gold medals. He out-touched László Cseh by 0.07 seconds in his heat to qualify last for the final, locking out Cseh. In his first finals of the Summer Olympics, Phelps placed fourth behind fellow American Ryan Lochte, Thiago Pereira of Brazil, and Kosuke Hagino of Japan in the 400-meter individual medley. It was the first time Phelps failed to medal in an Olympic event since 2000. The next night, in his second event of the Games, he got a silver as a member of the 4×100-meter free relay. Phelps swam the fastest leg of the US relay team and the second-fastest of anyone in the race.
On July 31, 2012, Phelps won a silver medal in the 200-meter butterfly behind South African Chad le Clos by 5/100ths of a second, and a gold medal in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, thereby equaling and then surpassing Larisa Latynina to become the all-time record holder for most Olympic medals won. Latynina was present at the race and asked to be the presenter of Phelps's medal, but was told that Olympic rules would not allow it. She called Phelps deserving of the record.
On August 2, 2012, Phelps won his 16th Olympic gold medal when he edged out Ryan Lochte to win the 200-meter individual medley with a time of 1:54.27, and by that victory also became the first male swimmer to win the same event in three consecutive Olympics. Rebecca Soni and Phelps (twice) are the only swimmers to successfully defend an individual title from the 2008 Games. This win also marked Phelps's fifth Olympic title in the individual medley, breaking the record of four shared by Hungarian Tamás Darnyi and Ukrainian Yana Klochkova.
In April 2014, Phelps announced he would come out of retirement, and would enter an event later that month. In May 2014, he won the 100-meter butterfly event at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte, North Carolina. Phelps was reportedly motivated by the national team's failure to win the men's 4 × 100 m freestyle relay since their Beijing 2008 and Rome 2009 titles. The relationship between Phelps and coach Bob Bowman had deteriorated in the preparations for London 2012, so Phelps convinced a skeptical Bowman that he "wasn't training for history. He wasn't training for the medals. He wasn't even training for all the fans. This time Phelps wanted to swim for himself...and enjoy the journey". Since his returning from retirement in 2014, Phelps "scaled back his calorie intake" and "increased his postswim ice baths". By the 2016 Olympic Trials, despite his age Phelps "felt physically stronger in the water, perhaps because of drills Bowman added to his pool workouts, like multiple repeats of 40 seconds of dolphin kicking while hugging a 10-pound weight to his chest".
After the 2008 Summer Olympics, Phelps started the Michael Phelps Foundation, which focuses on growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthier lifestyles. Phelps retired following the 2012 Olympics, but he made a comeback in April 2014. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, his fifth Olympics, he was selected by his team to be the flag bearer of the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics Parade of Nations. He announced his second retirement on August 12, 2016, having won more medals than 161 countries. He is widely regarded as the greatest swimmer of all time and is often considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time.
In September 2014, Phelps was arrested again, this time on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding in Baltimore. As a result, USA Swimming suspended him from all competitions for six months, and stated he would not be chosen to represent the United States at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in August. With Phelps off the team, the United States failed to qualify for the finals of the 4 × 100 m freestyle relay.
Phelps has trained under Bob Bowman since he was 11 years old. Bowman swam for Florida State University from 1983 to 1985. Phelps has said Bowman reminded him of a drill sergeant because of his disciplined and regimented ways. However, Phelps has said, "Training with Bob is the smartest thing I've ever done ... I'm not going to swim for anyone else." After the 2004 Summer Olympics, Bowman was hired as the head coach for the University of Michigan after Jon Urbanchek retired. Phelps joined Bowman at Michigan to train and attended classes, but did not pursue a degree. Phelps served as a volunteer assistant coach at Michigan. After the 2008 Summer Olympics, Bowman returned to Baltimore as CEO at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Phelps also returned to Baltimore with Bowman. When Bowman was hired as the men's and women's swimming coach at Arizona State University in 2015, Phelps moved to Arizona to continue training under Bowman. There is a popular myth that Phelps ate 12,000 calories every day, but Phelps has stated it’s been exaggerated and that he didn’t eat so much even in his growing days.
In December 2015 at the Winter Nationals in Federal Way, Phelps won titles in the same three events, again in long course, bringing his career total to 62 national titles.
Phelps began swimming at the age of seven, partly because of the influence of his sisters and partly to provide him with an outlet for his energy. After retirement in 2016, he stated "The only reason I ever got in the water was my mom wanted me to just learn how to swim. My sisters and myself fell in love with the sport, and we decided to swim." When Phelps was in the sixth grade, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). By the age of 10, he held a national record for his age group (in the 100-meter butterfly) and began to train at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under coach Bob Bowman. More age group records followed, and as of August 21, 2018, Phelps still held 11 age group records, eight in long course, and three in short course.
In 2017, Phelps joined the board of Medibio, a company focused on diagnosis of mental health disorders.
In January 2018, Phelps revealed that he has struggled both with ADHD and depression, having contemplated suicide after the 2012 Olympics.