Michael Phelps made history at the 2012 London Olympics by becoming the most decorated Olympian ever. Take a look back at the swimmer's life and career.
Phelps began swimming at the age of 7 when he joined the North Baltimore Aquatic Center.
He was initially trained by Bob Bowman, who is still his coach today.
Phelps made his Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Games at the age of 15. He finished fifth in the 200m butterfly.
The Baltimore native returned to the Olympics in 2004 where he earned six gold medals and two bronze. His performance tied the record books as he matched former Russian gymnast Alexander Dityatin with winning eight medals at a single Olympics.
Following the Athens Games, Phelps underwent some personal changes. He enrolled at the University of Michigan, where his coach, Bob Bowman, was leading the Wolverines. Phelps attended classes and trained under Bowman to prepare for the Beijing Games.
Phelps continued to improve after the 2004 Olympics, proven by his seven gold medals and five world records at the 2007 World Championships.
Heading into Beijing, all eyes were on Phelps as he tried to do something no swimmer had done before – win eight Olympic gold medals. The previous mark was set by American Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Olympics.
Phelps lived up to the expectations in Beijing and marched into the record books with eight Olympic gold medals. The American set world records in four of his five individual events. He was also a member of three record-setting relay teams.
After his Beijing feat Phelps ran into some trouble in his personal life. In 2009 a photo of Phelps holding a marijuana pipe appeared in a London tabloid. Phelps apologized for the incident and called his behavior “inappropriate.” He was suspended by USA Swimming for three months.
Phelps started to spend less time in the pool following the Beijing Games and his suspension, skipping practices and participating in minimal events.
He ultimately decided to keep swimming and eased back into competition.
At the 2009 World Championships Phelps won five races.
In 2011 he took home four golds, two silvers and a bronze. Both of Phelps’ silver medals came behind his compatriot Ryan Lochte, who could be the Baltimore native’s biggest threat in London.
Since the 2011 Worlds Phelps has been focused on London, where in his final Olympics he vaulted himself atop the record books.
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