Michael Phelps Heading to a Record Fifth Olympics
Phelps officially qualified on Wednesday by winning the men’s 200m butterfly at the U.S. trials with a time of 1:54.84. Phelps’ best time for the event in an Olympic trial is 1:52.20, posted prior to the 2008 Olympics.
Phelps will be participating in his fifth Olympic games, a journey that started 17 years ago when he qualified as a 15-year-old in the same event at the 2000 Olympic trials.
“I think that means the most tonight,” Phelps said. “I think just that with everything that’s happened, and being able to come back, that was probably harder than any other swim I’ve had in my life. I didn’t feel good the first two swims, and I didn’t really feel that good tonight.”
Phelps’ fifth appearance in the Olympic games is the first for a male swimmer. Phelps’ trial victory also marks the 25th Olympic event Phelps has qualified for in his career. To put this into perspective, the next highest number is 13 by Ryan Lochte, who qualified for the men’s 800m free relay Tuesday.
Phelps also becomes the oldest Olympic trial champion since 1960; Phelps has now won the 200m butterfly four times in a row, winning in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016.
Phelps was suspended by USA swimming from all events for 6 months after a DUI charge in 2004. He was also barred from representing the USA at the 2015 World Aquatics Championship held last August.
Phelps’ official winning time in Wednesday’s qualifying race was 1:54.84. Finishing second was Tom Shields with a time of 1:55.81; Shields is expected to be added to the team later this week.
The 31-year-old has won a total of 22 medals in three Olympiads—holding the all-time record for Olympic gold medals at 18. He also won eight gold medals during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.