Michael Phelps, The Story Of The Best Performing Olympian In History

We cannot discuss swimming without the name Michael Phelps coming up within the conversation. The 28 year old is a swimming legend having won 22 Olympic medals, 18 of which are gold medals.

michael phelps success story

Consequently, Phelps is the best performing Olympian ever. And clearly congratulations are in order, that title is no mean feat. In addition, the young man has won a total of 71 medals throughout his illustrious career.

Nevertheless, Michael retired from competitive swimming in 2012 but before he did, he had swam himself to a net worth in excess of $40 million. Moreover, he was also taking home in over $7 million annually in winnings and endorsements.

Testing The Waters

Phelps began his swimming career at an early age, but it wasn’t the usual cliché of his parents were swimmers or they saw how talented he was etc. No, Michael just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

You see, he has two older sisters who enjoyed swimming and joined a swimming club. As such, their little brother tagged along to the pool and was actually rather afraid to put his head it the water. All the same, young Phelps figured out a way to deal with this problem: he would learn the backstroke. And learn he did, in fact he excelled at it.

Into The Limelight

In 1996, Michael watched the Atlanta Summer Olympics and some winning swimmers caught his eye bringing him to the realization that he could actually make something of himself as a swimmer.

So he took the next step to stardom and joined the Baltimore Aquatic Club. And guess whom he met there: his coach Bob Bowman who saw the champion in him. He clearly had what it takes to win: an extremely competitive nature.

As such, the world met Phelps for the first time during the Sydney Summer Olympics when he was 15. All the same, he did not win any medals but he had every intention of turning his tides, he was going to be the Michael Jordan of the swimming pool.

Nothing But The Best

After the Sydney Summer Olympics, there was no turning back for Michael. At the very next Summer Olympics in Athens, he bagged 6 gold medals and by the time he retired in 2012, he had won 18 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 2 bronze medals.

Furthermore, between 2001 and 2011, Phelps had won 34 World Championship medals, 26 of which are gold medals. At this point, it is safe to say that he has arrived. From just a little boy hanging around the swimming pool at Baltimore Aquatic Club he had become the greatest Olympian of all time.

Phelps was living his dream, and how did he do it? He had the stuff that winners are made of: an insatiable desire to be the best and the willingness to put in all the hard work required.

the greatest olympian michael phelps


In 2012, Michael Phelps retired from competitive swimming. But he didn’t just retire; he did it in style having won 4 gold medals and 2 silver medals at the London Summer Olympics.

Yet again, Michael showed us another characteristic of great people: quitting while one is still ahead. That said, Michael’s retirement is a well-deserved rest and he was quoted as saying that he would take some time to travel and see some of the cities that he had competed in.

Interestingly enough, he said that all he had seen of these cities were their hotel rooms and swimming pools.


Michael has had his fair share of drama, following his spectacular wins, doping allegations were leveled against him. However, he passed all his anti-doping tests and silenced his critics.  

Disappointingly, Phelps was caught on camera using a water-pipe that is used to smoke marijuana in addition to having pled guilty to driving while impaired. All the same he apologized to his family and his country.

Lessons From Michael Phelps

Despite the controversies surrounding this Olympian, we can never dispute the fact that he is the best performing Olympian in history. What more can we say? Michael Phelps is a winner by all counts and we can emulate some of his winning strategies. These include:

  • Giving your best to everything you do.
  • Having a hunger for success.
  • Walking away from your achievements at a high point.

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"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton

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