As the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time with a grand total of 28 medals, Michael Phelps needs little introduction in the space – or really anywhere the Baltimore, USA native may frequent or travel. That’s what happens when one holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals, Olympic gold medals in individual events, and Olympic medals in individual events, an astoundingly impressive feat.
Michael Phelps is also the long course world record holder in the men's 400m Individual Medley, the current longest-standing swimming world record on the books. Moreover, he is the former long course world record holder in the 200m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly, 200m Butterfly, and 200m Individual Medley.
Phelps' stunning start to his historic run at the Beijing 2008 Olympics
Taking a trip back down memory lane to the Beijing 2008 Olympics, began his record-breaking eight gold-medal quest in the most audacious of ways – breaking his own 400m Individual Medley world record.
He did so in the most staggering of ways, trimming 1.41 seconds off the previous world mark to go under the 4:05 barrier in the event. In the 13 years and 157 days since Phelps’ opening Beijing performance, no other swimmer has broken the 4:05 barrier, let alone touched the now 36-year-olds world record, helping cement it into the pantheon of all-time greatest swimming performances.
Gold Medal Debut | 9th FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan
After making his Olympic debut at the Sydney 2000 Games, placing fifth in the 200 Butterfly a few months after his 15th birthday, Phelps burst onto the international scene in 2001 in Fukuoka in the same event. Facing all four of the men who finished ahead of him in Sydney, Phelps withstood teammate and reigning Olympic champ Tom Malchow and Frenchman Franck Esposito to win his first world championship title. And doing so with what would become a hallmark of his career, putting up a world record time with the air of the arena filled with championship pressure.
More breakthroughs | Phelps v Thorpe at the 10th FINA World Championships
Still a teenager, Phelps was already on his way to becoming a legendary athlete by the time the tenth edition of the FINA World Championships came to Barcelona, Spain in 2003. Although he was in line for four individual gold medals, he only ended up winning three, but it was here Phelps firmly cemented himself as a dominant player on swimming's grandest stages. On July 25, he astonishingly broke two world records in two different events in one day. First up, Phelps answered the call with a 51.47 in the 100m Butterfly second semi-final race.
Phelps, later that day, went head-to-head with Ian Thorpe (AUS) for the first time in his career in the 200m Individual Medley final. Phelps ended up leaving Thorpe firmly behind with an impressive 1:56.04, breaking his own world record of 1:57.52 from the semi-finals the day before. Thorpe finished a distant second in 1:59.66.
Still standing, and for how long?
Nearing fourteen years on from Beijing Olympics 2008 and Phelps’ still holds one of the longest standing swimming world records of all time in men’s individual events. It is also his lone remaining world record, so will Michael Phelps’ 400m individual medley world record become the longest standing of all-time in men’s swimming events?
Watch this space…