Highlights: Stole the show in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he finished first in every one of his five individual and three team events, setting world records in seven of them; holds the world record for most world records held by a swimmer (39), seven of which still stand, and three of which are individual; 7-time World Swimmer of the Year, 9-time American Swimmer of the Year, 2008 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
Quote: "A pool is a pool to me. I just get in the water and swim."
Fact: At 15, Phelps became the youngest male swimmer to break a world record.
AT50 Point Total: 48
It would take a while to list all of Phelps’ achievements, but the simple fact that he is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time speaks volumes to his dominance in competitive swimming. Of his 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them are gold—twice as many as his closest contender. He also holds world records in the 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley, not to mention his broader successes in non-Olympic competition. He has fascinated the public outside of the pool as well with his 12,000 calorie diet, freakishly hydrodynamic torso, and a 2009 pot-smoking controversy. He announced his retirement from swimming after the 2012 games in London, but in his wake he leaves a legacy that Olympians of all sports will pursue for years to come.