By competing at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Michael Phelps will set several Olympic records and bests, both USA and international. Further, should he win a medal, or a gold medal, he will also set several Olympic records and bests. He already holds the Olympic records of 22 medals and 18 gold medals, both marks he can extend in Rio. The following details his current standings on the various Olympic lists, and what else he can/will achieve with his performance in Rio.
By Competing in Rio, Michael Phelps Will …
- Become the first American man to compete in swimming at five Olympic Games, and only the second American, equalling the mark of Dara Torres, who competed in 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2008. Phelps is tied among American men with Jason Lezak as the only two US Olympians to compete in swimming at 4 Olympic Games.
- Compete in the Olympics over a 16-year span, as will his @TeamUSA teammate, Anthony Ervin. Together they will move to =4th among male Olympic swimmers, trailing Mark Foster (GBR / 1988-2008), Derya Büyükuncu (TUR / 1992-2012), and Lars Frölander (SWE / 1992-2012), who appeared over a 20-year span. Phelps and Ervin will set the @TeamUSA record among men, but the Olympic swimming record, and the @TeamUSA Olympic swimming best, is held by Dara Torres, who competed over 24 years – 1984-2008.
- Increase his record for appearing in the most Olympic swimming events. Phelps has competed in 24 events from 2000-12, which is the Olympic record for swimming. He could increase this to as much as 30 in Rio, if he swims all 3 relays, although that is unlikely. Among all swimmers, German Franziska Van Almsick is second with 23 events, while among American swimmers, Jenny Thompson is second with 17 events. Among American male swimmers, Phelps has twice as many as the next 3 – Mark Spitz, Matt Biondi, and Ryan Lochte, with 12 events, although Lochte will compete in Rio and surpass Spitz and Biondi.
If He Wins Individual Medals in Rio, Michael Phelps Will …
- Tie or become the Olympian with the most medals ever in individual events. Phelps surpassed Larysa Latynina (URS) as the most be-medalled Olympian with 22, bettering Latynina’s 18, but Latynina won 14 individual medals. Through 2012, Phelps has won “only” 13 individual Olympic medals, placing him second in that category. With 1 individual medal, he will tie Latynina with 14, and 2 individual medals would move him into 1st in that list.
- Move up to 9th place on the oldest individual male medalist list among Olympic swimmers. However, Phelps’ @TeamUSA teammate, Ryan Lochte, is slightly older than Phelps so this could change if he wins an individual medal in Rio; and Anthony Ervin is 5-years older than Phelps if he wins a medal in the 50 free.
If He Wins a Gold Medal in Rio, Michael Phelps Will …
- Equal the mark for the Olympian with the most gold medals ever in team events, assuming a gold in a relay, which is likely. Through 2012, Phelps has 7 gold medals in relays. The Olympic record for most team event gold medals, any sport, however, is held by another @TeamUSA Olympic swimmer, Jenny Thompson, who won 8 gold medals in relays.
- Become the oldest individual gold medalist in Olympic swimming history, if he wins an individual gold, surpassing Inge de Bruijn (NED), who was 30-363 when she won the 50 metre freestyle in 2004. Phelps will be about 31-035 to 31-042 during the swimming competition in Rio. However, Phelps’ @TeamUSA teammate, Ryan Lochte, is slightly older than Phelps so this could change if he wins an individual medal in Rio; and Anthony Ervin is 5-years older than Phelps if he wins a gold medal in the 50 free.
- Become the oldest men to win an Olympic individual gold medal, with an individual gold, that mark currently held by Duke Kahanamoku at Antwerpen in 1920, at age 30-009. However, as noted above, Ryan Lochte is slightly older than Phelps and this could change if he wins an individual gold medal in Rio; and Anthony Ervin is 5-years older than Phelps if he wins a gold medal in the 50 free.
- Win his fourth consecutive gold medals in the 100 butterfly or 200 IM, assuming he wins either of those events. That will make him only the 4th Olympian to win four consecutive gold medals in the same individual event – after Paul Elvstrøm (DEN – sailing one-handed dinghy, 1948-64 [although there was a slight difference in the event in 1948]); Al Oerter (USA – athletics discus throw, 1956-68); and Carl Lewis (USA – athletics long jump, 1984-96) (and Ray Ewry [USA – athletics standing high jump and standing long jump, 1900-08], if you count 1906).
- Equal Ray Ewry by winning four consecutive gold medals in two individual events, again assuming he wins both the 100 fly or the 200IM, although that would include 1906 for Ewry. Not including Ewry, Phelps can become the first Olympian to achieve this, although see the next note.
If He Wins Individual Gold Medals in Rio, Michael Phelps Will …
- Tie or better the “Olympic” record for the most titles in individual events. Although Phelps has won 11 individual gold medals, and would seem to hold that Olympic record, in fact the record is actually held by Leonidas of Rhodes, who won 12 individual titles at the Ancient Olympic Games. Leonidas won the stadion (about 195 yards), diaulos (about 380 yards), and hoplite race (race in armour) at four consecutive Olympic Games from 164-152 BC. Thus, if Phelps wins an individual gold medal, or gold medals, he will tie or break a record that has now stood for 2168 years. If so, Leonidas will not be present in Rio to congratulate Phelps.