Phelps is Back: The Return to the Top

AP+Photo%2FEric+Gay

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Michael Phelps.  The man known as the greatest swimmer of all time.  He possesses incredible achievements such as taking 5th place in the 2000 Olympics at just 15 years old, winning 22 career Olympic medals, 18 of which are gold, and holding six current world records.  With four Olympic games under his belt, can anyone stop him in Rio?

With all of his success, most people do not know of the most challenging task Phelps has taken on in his swimming career.  He has overcome world champions, seemingly unbreakable barriers, and even his own world records several times over.  But none of that compares to the immensity of taking about two years off from swimming only to once again become the best in the world.  After the Beijing Games, Phelps claimed his last Olympic performance would be in London 2012.  To any “normal” athlete, those games would have been a massive success.  Phelps walked away with four gold medals and two silvers; unfortunately, one of those silvers was in his signature event: the 200 butterfly.  Despite that small hiccup, his “last” performance was definitely one to remember.

Two years later in 2014, he came back from retirement.  Phelps personally missed the competition in swimming far too much to retire permanently.  He had a long way to climb to become the best again, but he was more determined than ever to do so.  In 2015 at the US Summer Nationals, Michael swam the three top times in the world for his events; the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, and 200-meter individual medley.  These victories gave swimming fans the Michael Phelps everyone loves: energetic, joyful, and unbelievably fast.  After his incredible journey from retirement to number one in the world in just a few short years, everyone is brimming with excitement in anticipation for his performances at US Trials and the Olympics in Rio this summer.  Will he continue his 12-year run of dominance?  Or will the young guns like Chad Le Clos and Jack Conger overcome him in his older age?