Google Says Michael Phelps Is the Greatest Swimmer of All Time. But How Long Will His Legacy Last?

Published 11/09/2023, 10:02 AM EST

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It’s very hard not to agree with the fact that Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time. He is, at least, the most decorated swimmer of all time, in the Olympics as well as the World Championships. The American swimmer has shattered and created over 39 world records during his career. However, the 38-year-old Phelps has put a halt to his large medals tally after taking retirement in 2016.

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In addition to being the greatest swimmer of all time, Phelps is also the greatest Olympic athlete of all time with 28 Olympic gold medals to his name. Whether he is the GOAT or not, Phelps surely has built himself a legacy for the ages. But how long will his legacy last? Who is the current swimmer who can carry forward Michael Phelps’ legacy?

Where does Michael Phelps stand today?

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Michael Phelps started professional swimming in high school. As soon as Phelps met Bob Bowman, who went on to become his lifelong coach, the journey of the legend kicked off. Phelps’ record time in the 200 m butterfly earned him a place at the 2000 Olympics. Aged 15, he became the youngest male swimmer to race in the Olympics in 68 years. He went on to win 28 Olympic medals including 23 golds in 5 Olympics, and 33 World Championship medals including 26 golds from 2001-201. He is the highest medal holder both overall as well as in the Olympics and World championships.

In addition to all these medals, Michael Phelps made 39 world records until he retired after the 2016 Olympics. 2008 marked his most prolific Olympic event, sweeping 8 gold medals. He was named World Swimmer of the Year 7 times in his career. Phelps is by far the best but what made him be so?

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Phelps had the strongest commitment possible. His work ethic was exemplary. He didn’t take any days off. He trained for several hours each day. While Phelps retired in 2016 and only 4 of his 39 world world records stand today, he still remains the best of all. It’s clear that none of the previous swimmers can surpass Phelps’s legacy, however, could any among the present lot do?

Who can replicate Phelps’s legacy?

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Michael Phelps is rightly regarded as the greatest of all time, till now, because no one has ever built the legacy Phelps has. However, eras come to an end eventually. While nothing can be said about the future, could anyone of present times do it?

The two biggest names, with the highest potential from both men’s and women’s camps, have to be Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky. These two swimmers have displayed unbelievable talent in their short careers and achieved a lot till now. Caeleb Dressel is considered to be faster than Phelps in speed and has 7 Olympic gold medals in 2 events. Though less than Phelps’ 33, Dressel has 15 medals in 2 World Championships. Still early in his career, if Dressel can continue his winning run, he surely can reach Phelps status if not overtake it.

Katie Ledecky is by far the best female swimmer in current times. She has 6 medals in 2 Olympic appearances, and if she averages 6 medals in her next 4 appearances, she definitely can overtake Phelps’ 28 medals. Though very hard, yet achievable. Ledecky also boasts 18 medals in World Championships, 15 less than Phelps’ 33. If Ledecky can win 5 medals in each championship for the next 3 years, she can easily overtake Phelps’ tally.

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Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel are the most probable ones to test the legacy of Michael Phelps. It needs sheer commitment and utter determination to achieve this and these two definitely have it. As a fan, it would be an absolute pleasure to witness such a run. Can any of these two do it? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

WATCH THIS STORY- Swimming GOAT Michael Phelps Dazzled his Fans by Sharing his Stunning Workout on Instagram

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Written by:

Zahid Rashid Dar

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Zahid is a US sports writer at EssentiallySports. His lifelong passion for sports, particularly the Olympics, has been a driving force in his writing journey with ES. Zahid began his career at EssentiallySports by covering swimming and gymnastics, where he provides valuable insights, technicality and analysis in his articles.
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Edited by:

Sampurna Pal

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