From bursting on the Olympic scene at the tender age of 15 to winning 8 Olympic gold medals in Beijing, Michael Phelps has dominated the swimming world. Each summer Olympics since 2000 has been highlighted by his memorable performances – and the “Phelps Face”. Each time he dives into the water, a world record is at risk of being broken. The excitement he creates within the sport is unrivaled, and after his retirement one can only hope that he returns for a final shot at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Here are his five greatest races, in no particular order:
- 100 fly at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – Phelps makes one of the greatest individual comebacks of all time to shock Cavic at the wall, out touching him by .01 and keeping his gold streak alive.
- 4×100 free relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – Arguably the most exciting race ever swum. There was an exciting buildup to the race, as the French team had been trash-talking the Americans and said, “We are going to smash them”. Rowdy Gaines commented that the French were heavy favorites and the Americans would all need to swim a perfect race to pull off the upset. Phelps leads off to give the Americans a slight lead over France, but the lead disintegrates over the next two legs. Lezak, the anchor leg of the relay, dives in about a body length behind the former WR holder in the 100m freestyle and catches him during the last 15m, making it one of the most improbable comebacks of all time.
- 200 freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – What Phelps deems the most perfect race he has ever swum, setting a WR of 1:42.96. He absolutely dominates the field in the process.
- 100 fly at the 2009 World Championships in Rome – An epic rematch between Phelps and Cavic in which Phelps reasserts his dominance, being the first person to ever go under 50 in the 100m fly with a new WR of 49.82.
- 100 fly at the 2015 National Championships – Phelps responds with the fastest time in the world that year, after Le Clos told the media “He (Phelps) can keep quite now” after posting the fastest time earlier that morning of 50.56. Evidently, it wasn’t Le Clos’s best idea to give the greatest swimmer of all-time ‘bulletin board’ material before his race.
Which races do you think top these incredible FIVE? Comment below!