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Michael Phelps is a swimmer competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for the USA.

With 16 Olympic medals (14 gold, two bronze), Michael Phelps needs just three more to surpass former Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina for the most ever in history. He'll have plenty of chances to break the record in London, where he will compete in seven events - 200m/400mIM, 100m/200m butterfly and the three relays. Phelps qualified for eight at the Olympic Trials but dropped the 200m freestyle from his lineup, saying he wanted to focus on the relays. His coach Bob Bowman said they want to enter Phelps in events they think he can win. "The fewer the better his chances are," Bowman said. Latynina earned nine gold, five silver and four bronze medals at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics. Phelps picked up all of his medals at the 2004 and 2008 Games, as he did not win a medal in 2000.

Phelps went a perfect 8-for-8 at the 2008 Olympics, breaking Mark Spitz's single-Games record for gold medals (Spitz won seven in 1972). Phelps swam 17 times over nine days and broke the world record in four of his five individual swims. His three relay teams also set world marks.

In his first final, Phelps won the 400m IM in 4:03.86, more than a second faster than the record he set a month earlier at Olympic Trials. The next day, Phelps and the U.S. team squeaked out a win in the 4x100m freestyle relay. Phelps' leadoff leg of 47.51 was an American record, but anchor Jason Lezak dove in with more than a half-second deficit. Lezak posted the fastest relay split in history, 46.06, to catch Frenchman Alain Bernard for the win by just .08 of a second.

Phelps easily won the 200m free for his third gold in Beijing and his record-tying ninth career gold. But he wasn't tied for long, as the next morning, Phelps won two more gold medals: first, in the 200m butterfly, where the race was tighter than expected. The only race in the 4x200m freestyle relay was for second, as the U.S. men, with Phelps leading off, broke the record by more than four seconds and beat the field by more than five. Phelps won his sixth gold with a dominating performance in the 200m IM, lowering his world record to 1:54.23, but his seventh gold was by the absolute slimmest of margins, .01 in the 100m butterfly. Phelps appeared to finish behind Milorad Cavic but his half stroke beat out Cavic's glide to the wall by a nail.

Phelps swam the butterfly leg of the 4x100m medley relay in the final event of the Beijing Olympic swimming competition. He left the blocks with his team third but gave the lead to Jason Lezak, who closed out the victory.

After his performance in Beijing, Phelps started to slip up in and out of the pool. He admitted to skipping practices during 2009 and 2010, opting to play golf much of the time. In early 2009, a photo of Phelps holding a marijuana pipe appeared in a London tabloid newspaper. A scandal ensued, and Phelps later apologized for acting "in a youthful and inappropriate way." The photo was taken at a house party at the University of South Carolina in November 2008.

Phelps was suspended by USA Swimming for three months and he thought about quitting the sport. Ultimately he decided to continue swimming, and he returned to competition at the 2009 Charlotte UltraSwim. That summer at the World Championships, Phelps won five races – including another thrilling 100m butterfly final with Cavic. From there, Phelps competed in a few World Cup and Grand Prix meets but mostly took it easy and enjoyed his time away from the pool. He managed to sneak in some practice time in 2010 and swam at the Pan-Pacific Championships that summer, where he won five gold medals (three relays, two individual). Fellow American Ryan Lochte earned six gold medals, leading Phelps' coach Bob Bowman to conclude that Lochte was better than Phelps.

Phelps had a successful 2011 World Championships meet, having won four gold medals — 100m/200m butterfly, 400m medley relay, 800m freestyle relay — along with two silvers and a bronze. But the pair of runner-up finishes came at the hands of Lochte, who won the 200m freestyle and 200m IM (he set a world record in the 200m IM). The losses were said to anger and frustrate Phelps, who was used to being on top of the swimming world. He has since buckled down and is focused on London – where the race of the meet could be the 200m IM showdown between Phelps and Lochte.

Phelps won seven gold medals (200m free, 100m fly, 200m fly, 200m IM, 400m IM, 4x100m free and 4x200m free) and set five world records (200m free, 200m fly, 200m IM, 400m IM and 4x200m free) in one of the most dominant swimming performances ever at the 2007 Worlds. All of the individual event world records that Phelps broke were his own except for the 200m freestyle, where he shattered Ian Thorpe's mark from 2001. Phelps shaved .20 of a second off Thorpe's time and won the race by almost 2.5 seconds.

Phelps did not get the chance to race for an eighth gold at Worlds in the final event, the 4x100m medley relay, because the U.S. team was disqualified in the preliminaries, in which he did not swim. Teammate Ian Crocker left the blocks .01 of a second too soon for his leg, and the false start cost the U.S. a spot in the final. It was the first time the U.S. did not swim in a relay final in the history of world championships.

A 15-year-old Phelps made his Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Games, but his best finish was fifth in the 200m butterfly. Four years later, he arrived at the Athens Games ready to win gold … which is what he did, as he returned to the U.S. with six gold medals and two bronze. In one of his victories, the 400m IM, Phelps broke the world record. Only one other person, former Russian gymnast Alexander Dityatin, had won eight medals in a single Olympics entering the Athens Games. "I came here wanting one gold," Phelps said at the time. "Now I've done something no one in the sport of swimming has done before."

At first glance, Phelps might look like a typical swimmer. But several of his physical characteristics seem genetically tailored for swimming. His 6-foot-7-inch wingspan is three inches longer than his height, providing him with unusual reach. His torso is long compared to his legs, enabling him to ride high on the water. And his flexible ankles, combined with size-14 feet, allow for a powerful kick. Add to that more than a decade of high-intensity training, and you get one of the fastest swimmers in history.

After Athens, Phelps enrolled as a student at Michigan, moving away from home for the first time. During his first year living alone, he had to make some adjustments and learn a few quick lessons. Phelps once filled up his dishwasher with hand soap and came home to find his floor covered in suds. He also had trouble eating his first bowl of cereal after he realized he hadn't purchased any bowls, so he ate the cereal with milk out of a Gatorade bottle.

Bowman announced in April 2008 that he was leaving Michigan and returning to Baltimore after Beijing to serve as CEO of North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Phelps, who is nicknamed the "Baltimore Bullet," returned home as well after four years in Ann Arbor. Phelps and Bowman met at NBAC.

Phelps made his Olympic debut in Sydney at age 15 when he qualified for the 200m fly by finishing second at U.S. Trials — a result he wasn't exactly expecting. "At first I couldn't really believe it. I thought I saw it and had to take my goggles off to really see," Phelps said of the race. He was the youngest man on the U.S. swim team, but despite his age and lack of international experience, he made the final in Sydney and finished fifth. Five months after that race, Phelps became the sport's youngest male world-record holder when he claimed the 200m fly mark.

Phelps appeared at the 1996 Olympic Trials as a 10-year-old, not to swim but to support his sister, Whitney. When she finished sixth in the 200m butterfly final and missed making the team, the family cried in the stands. "It left a scar on our family," Michael says. Whitney's career was cut short by four herniated discs, but Michael says he lives by her example. From the time he was little, he remembers how he would hear her door shut and the car start before dawn as she made her way to practice. Phelps has another sister, Hilary, who swam for the University of Richmond.

Following his sisters to the pool, Phelps began swimming at age 7 when he joined North Baltimore Aquatic Club. He met Bowman four years later, and Bowman immediately recognized his ability. "There was nothing holding him back, at that time or now," Bowman said. "I felt that when I saw him as a younger swimmer, that he had limitless potential." Bowman even met with Phelps' parents when he was 12, explaining that he could potentially make the Olympics in 2000 and even set 2004 and 2008 as targets.

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How tall is Michael Phelps? How old is Michael Phelps? Where does Michael Phelps live? Who is Michael Phelps dating? Find out here.

Age: 31 years old
Birthday: June 30, 1985
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 194 lbs.
Nickname: Flying Fish
The Baltimore Bullet
Full Name / Real Name: Michael Fred Phelps
Birthplace: Baltimore, MD
Current Residence: Baltimore, MD

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