It’s true: Michael Phelps is now swimming in his fifth Olympic games, and he’s still only 31 years old.
Michael Phelps was born in 1985 and his first Summer Games were in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. He was only 15 and finished 5th in the 200-meter butterfly.
He hasn’t finished fifth much in the 16 years since. Michael Phelps appeared in the Summer Olympics in 2004 (Athens, winning 8 medals, 6 of them gold), in 2008 (Beijing, 8 medals, all gold), in 2012 (London, 6 medals, 4 gold), and now he’s in Rio for 2016. He won gold in his first race here, the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay.
Michael Phelps is by far the most-medaled Olympian of all time, with 23 medals total. And that’s all after retiring in 2012 and then making a comeback in 2014. He’s not even the first person to be in five different Olympic games; that honor goes to Dara Torres, who was 41 when she pulled the trick in Beijing in 2008. Does that mean Michael Phelps will go for six… or seven? It be a surprise if he turns up in Tokyo in 2020?
Although Scientific American has pooh-poohed the idea that Michael Phelps has “freakish” lung capacity or other anatomical attributes, one has to wonder if one day we’ll discover that he, like American Pharoah, has a super-large heart.
See our biography of Michael Phelps »