Just a year after Michael Phelps retired from professional swimming in 2012, he was back training again for Rio 2016. In an interview he confessed, “Retirement was pretty boring, to be honest…It’s good to have some structure back in my life”.  However it seems that this years Olympic Games really will be the swimmers last, as he held a press conference at the end of last year to cite “building” his family as his main focus. The swimmer’s career and achievements have for many lead him to be considered the second greatest Olympian of all time, and with his final Olympics looming closer we take a look back at what makes him so great.

Phelps was the Youngest American Olympic Male Swimmer in 68 Years

When Phelps made his Olympic debut in 2000 he was aged just 15 making him the youngest American male swimmer to compete at the Games in 68 years. Even more astonishing, he ranked an incredible 5th in the Men’s 200m Butterfly, an amazing achievement for someone so young. Just four years later Phelps would return to the Olympics aged just 19 and walk away with 6 gold and 2 bronze medals, perhaps the greatest swimming performance in history for someone his age.

Phelps Holds the Record for Most Medal Wins

The young swimmer’s achievements in the 2004 Olympics in Athens was just the start of Phelp’s amazing career. At his retirement, aged 28, the star had won 22 Olympic medals with 18 of them being gold, which is an Olympic record. To win one Olympic medal is a dream come true so you can only imagine the thought of winning 22.

Phelps has Won Many Other Achievements too

It’s not just Olympic medals that Phelps collects, the swimmer has also been named World Swimmer of the Year seven times, American Swimmer of the Year nine times and FINA Swimmer of the Year in 2012. And let’s not forget the fact that he’s won 26 World Championship (LC) medals and 16 Pan Pacific Championships gold medals. He really is one, if not the, greatest swimmers of all time.

What Makes Phelps Such a Good Swimmer?

There are two main aspects to Michael Phelps that make him a great swimmer. The first is obvious to anyone that’s seen him, at 6ft4 he has an arm span of 208cm, big hands and size 14 feet – all of which help propel him through the water. He also weighs just 200lbs meaning he’s also very fast. The second aspect to his achievements though is Phelps’ determination, like other top class athletes Phelps hates to lose and will train extensively to ensure that he’s the best at what he does.

Yet Phelps Wasn’t Always a Great Swimmer

It might seem hard to believe, but Phelps was in fact scared of water when he was young. He joined a local swimming club in Baltimore with his two sisters to learn to swim, but at age seven Phelps was still too scared to submerge his head underwater so he mastered the backstroke first. Thankfully he got over his fear, otherwise he would never have become one of the greatest Olympians of all time.

You can keep up with Michael on Twitter and his personal website.

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