London 2012 Olympics: What Michael Phelps Must Do to Be Best Olympian Ever

Alex FieldCorrespondent IIJuly 19, 2012

BEIJING - AUGUST 17:  Michael Phelps of the United States smiles with the American flag as he wears his eighth gold medal after the Men's 4x100 Medley Relay at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 9 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 17, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

With 14 gold medals already around his neck, Michael Phelps will be looking to rewrite history during his last Olympics.

The swimming phenom will reportedly enter early retirement after this year’s Games, according to

The 27-year-old Phelps boasts an impressive 16 Olympic medals and will be looking to increase that total when he travels to London for the Summer Games.

Regardless of the results of his races, Phelps has already cemented his legacy as one of the best ever. However, with one last shot at glory, he will take his rightful place as the best Olympian of all-time.

With three more medals, Phelps would become the all-time leading medal winner in Olympic history. That, along with the fact that he garnered a record-breaking eight gold medals in Beijing, should be enough to secure his top spot.

Phelps finished first during the trials in the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly and 200-meter individual medley, and he finished second in the 400-meter individual medley.

He will certainly have stiff competition from fellow American Ryan Lochte, but Phelps does not need to dominate in order to garner the notoriety of being the best Olympian ever. He would only need to win three medals to break the all-time mark, set by Larisa Latynina of the former Soviet Union.

If Phelps does reign supreme over the competition and nab four or five medals, he will distance himself from anyone else and grab the spot of best Olympian ever.

Another key facet in Phelps’ ascension to the top spot is his competition with Lochte.

Although they both may swim for the same country, Lochte has lived in the Phelps' shadow as Phelps has become the poster child for American swimming. That could change this year, however, as Lochte has shown he is capable of dethroning the champ. He is incredibly gifted, and he certainly will push Phelps even harder.

With this being Phelps’ last Olympics, he will not want to go out as the runner-up. He will be eager to prove that he is the best ever.

As he is standing on the podium after earning his 19th Olympic medal, Phelps will be able to hang up his cap and goggles and leave the sport as not only the best swimmer of all-time, but as the best Olympian as well.