Michael Phelps is a true American swimming phenomenon, and as the most decorated Olympian of all time is raring to get into the water for what will surely be an exciting first weekend of the Rio Olympics with regard to swimming.
Since Sydney 2000, the US swimmer has bagged 18 Olympic gold medals – and he’s back for one final swansong at Rio 2016, giving himself a chance to win four more.
The 31-year-old was his country’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony and is taking part in his fifth Olympic Games.
He’s also expected to compete in the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays, along with the 4×100 medley relay.
Phelps made history at the 2012 London Olympics as the first male swimmer to earn gold in the 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley in three straight Summer Games.
Phelps retired at the conclusion of the London Games with a record 22 medals (18 gold) in his illustrious career.
After a two-year break, however, Phelps came out of retirement in 2014 and qualified for the Rio Games by winning the 200m butterfly (1:54.84) at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in June.
The US team has not failed to finish in the top three since the event was introduced in 1964, but champions France and resurgent Australia will be tough opponents.
“The first two nights of the relays, with the women’s on the first night and the men’s on the second, there will probably be a lot of fireworks in the swimming pool,” said Phelps.
“I’m looking forward to either watching or being in that race. Those races are … super fast and there are always some crazy splits that take place.
“I think this sport has changed to where there’s not really one or two powerhouses,” said Phelps.
“You could probably pick three or four teams that are going to have a chance to win that [men’s] relay.”
The Rio Games are expected to be the final Olympics for Phelps, but the 31-year-old recently expressed possible second thoughts.
“To have our first-born be able to watch — I’ll say this just, in case I come back — my potential last Olympics,” Phelps said in a Washington Post article. “Just so you guys don’t beat me to death if I come back, I’m just going to say that. To have him watch the potential last races of my career is something I look forward to being able to share with him.”
Below is a full listing of all the Olympic medals Michael Phelps has earned, where and when:
400-meter medley – GOLD – 4:08.26 (world record)
4x100m freestyle – BRONZE – 3:14.62 (with Ian Crocker, Neil Walker, Jason Lezak)
200m freestyle – BRONZE – 1:45.32
200m butterfly – GOLD – 1:54.04 (Olympic record)
4x200m freestyle – GOLD – 7:07.33 (with Ryan Lochte, Peter Vanderkaay, Klete Keller)
200m medley – GOLD – 1:57.14 (Olympic record)
100m butterfly – GOLD – 51:25 (Olympic record)
4x100m medley – GOLD – 3:30.68 (Phelps swam in heats, did not swim in final)
400m medley – GOLD – 4:03.84 (world record)
4x100m freestyle – GOLD – 3:08.24 (world record, with Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones, Jason Lezak)
200m freestyle – GOLD – 1:42.96 (world record)
200m butterfly – GOLD – 1:52.03 (world record)
4x200m freestyle – GOLD – 6:58.56 (world record, with Ryan Lochte, Rickey Berens, Peter Vanderkaay)
200m medley – GOLD – 1:54.23 (world record)
100m butterfly – GOLD – 50.58 (Olympic record)
4×100 medley – GOLD – 3:29.34 (world record, with Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Jason Lezak)
4x100m freestyle – SILVER – 3:10.36 (with Nathan Adrian, Cullen Jones, Ryan Lochte)
200m butterfly – SILVER – 1:53.01
4x200m freestyle – GOLD – 6:59.70 (with Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, Ricky Berens)
200m medley – GOLD – 1:54.27
100m butterfly – GOLD – 51.21
4x100m medley – GOLD – 3:29.35 (with Matt Grevers, Brendan Hansen, Nathan Adrien)
How to watch (TV coverage on NBC, live stream on NBCOlympics.com)
All times Eastern
(Finals) Sunday Aug. 7, 10:52 p.m.
(Heats) Monday Aug. 8, 12:34 p.m.
(Semifinals) Monday Aug. 8, 10:29 p.m.
(Finals) Tuesday Aug. 9, 9:28 p.m.
4x200m freestyle (possible):
(Finals) Tuesday Aug. 9, 10:38 p.m.
200m individual medley:
(Heats) Wednesday Aug. 10, 1:09 p.m.
(Semifinals) Wednesday Aug. 10, 10:29 p.m.
(Finals) Thursday Aug. 11, 10:01 p.m.
(Heats) Thursday Aug. 11, 1:16 p.m.
(Semifinals) Thursday Aug. 11, 10:34 p.m.
(Finals) Friday Aug. 12, 9:12 p.m.
4x100m medley relay:
(Finals) Saturday Aug. 13, 10:04 p.m.