As the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps’ status as the world’s greatest ever swimmer appeared to be safe. Now, however, there’s a young pretender on the scene, and he’s showing signs that he could one day eclipse the Baltimore Bullet’s achievements in the pool. Here, then, is a look at Phelps’ career and the new kid tipped to be his successor.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1985, Michael Phelps started swimming aged seven, and within three short years he was smashing American age group records left, right and centre. Subsequently taken under the wing of coach Bob Bowman, Phelps first came to international attention in 2000 when he competed at the Summer Olympics in Sydney. Aged just 15 at the time, the boy from Baltimore placed fifth in the 200m butterfly final.
A year later, Phelps became the youngest world record-breaking male swimmer in history thanks to his 200m butterfly performance at the world trials that proceeded 2001’s FINA World Swimming Championships. At 2003’s edition of the Worlds, meanwhile, he won gold medals in the 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 200m freestyle – the first U.S. competitor to ever achieve such a feat.