United States swimming legend Michael Phelps may have run his last laps in an Olympic pool, but his bevvy of gold medals and world records will live on in sports’ lore for decades to come. The 31-year-old Baltimore, Maryland native said numerous times throughout the 2016 Rio Games that he plans to end his career after a securing another five gold medals to further pad his world record of 23 gold and 28 total medals.
Those tallies are by far the most in history for any Olympian in any competition, and in Phelps’ mind, he has nothing left to prove on the world’s biggest sporting stage.
"Done, done, done, and this time I mean it," Phelps said in his official retirement announcement on NBC’s Today Show. "I wanted to come back and finish my career how I wanted and this was the cherry on top of the cake."
Throughout this year’s Games, teammates have chided Phelps and said they don’t fully believe he’s going to walk away from competitive swimming despite his repeated claims otherwise.
And yet, when taking into account the full breadth of Phelps’ Olympic career, it’s difficult to argue against his stated wishes even though it means fans and admirers will no longer see one of the greatest athletes in history.
Phelps truly does have nothing left to prove, as evidenced by his career gold-medal count compared to entire nations that have competed in the Olympics. As of publishing, Phelps’ 23 gold medals equals that of this year’s host nation Brazil as well as South Africa, and he’s already exceeded nations like Argentina (21 gold), Austria (18), and Jamaica (17).
And to think, after winning four golds in London four years ago, the greatest Olympian of all-time nearly walked away from swimming but rededicated himself, Phelps told E! News.
"Two or three years ago, I ended up falling back in love with the sport,” he said. “When I kinda fell away for a while and wasn't interested anymore, I didn't wanna go through the pain, didn't wanna go through the grind, I found this love again...It was amazing, I felt like a kid again."
Below is a full list of Phelps’ gold medal victories from each of the last four Olympics and the seven world records he currently holds either in individual or team events.
Michael Phelps Gold Medals And World Records
2004 Athens Games (6): 100-meter Butterfly; 200-meter Butterfly; 200-meter Medley; 400-meter Medley; 4x100-meter Medley; 4x200-meter Freestyle
2008 Beijing Games (8): 100-meter Butterfly; 200-meter Butterfly; 200-meter Medley; 200-meter Freestyle; 400-meter Medley; 4x100-meter Freestyle; 4x100-meter Medley; 4x200-meter Freestyle
2012 London Games (4): 100-meter Butterfly; 200-meter Medley; 4x100-meter Medley; 4x200-meter Freestyle
2016 Rio Games (5): 200-meter Butterfly; 200-meter Medley; 4x100-meter Freestyle; 4x100-meter Medley; 4x200-meter Freestyle
Racing World Records
100-meter Butterfly 49.82 seconds
200-meter Butterfly 1:51.51 minutes
400-meter Individual Medley 4:03.84 minutes
4x100-meter Freestyle Relay 3:08.24 minutes
4x100-meter Freestyle Relay 3:03.30 minutes (short course)
4x100-meter Medley Relay 3:27.28 minutes
4x200-meter Freestyle Relay 6:58.55