Michael Phelps' Farewell Tour: His Final Events and What's Next for US Swimmer
In 2000, 15-year-old Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut in Sydney, finishing fifth in the 200-meter butterfly.
In 2004, he attempted eight events in Athens. The result: eight medals, six of them gold.
In 2008, he tried the same program in Beijing. China's lucky number is eight, and so is Phelps', as he won them all.
In last year's World Championships, he showed a few signs of slipping. He won four events, finished second in two others and was third in a relay.
This year, Phelps is trying seven events. How's he doing?
July 28: 400-Meter Individual Medley
Phelps hadn't contested this race in the 2009 or 2011 World Championships. This year, he brought it back, dropping the 200-meter freestyle.
But we immediately learned that London would not be a rerun of Beijing. Phelps took it easy in qualifying and nearly misjudged it, squeaking into the final with the eighth-best time. Billed as a showdown between Phelps and Ryan Lochte, it turned out to be a massive win for Lochte (3.68 seconds in front), while Phelps missed the medals for the first time since the 2000 Games.
July 29: 4x100-Meter Freestyle Relay
A light day for Phelps. And though he and the USA had finished third in this event in the 2011 World Championships, the team seemed to be in control in the final. He swam second and swam well, building upon a solid lead from leadoff man Nathan Adrian. Cullen Jones kept that margin, but Lochte failed to hold it on the anchor leg.
July 30-31: 200-Meter Butterfly
Phelps cruised through qualifying. He led throughout the final, but South Africa's Chad le Clos closed in the last few meters, and Phelps—known for winning at the finish—didn't touch the wall in time. A stunning 0.05-second loss, his first in a major meet since the 2000 Olympics.
July 31: 4x200-Meter Freestyle Relay
Piece of cake in an event the USA has dominated in Olympic and World Championship competition. Lochte went first and stomped the rest of the field. Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens extended the lead, and Phelps cruised home through the anchor leg.
With that medal, Phelps took sole possession of the record for most Olympic medals. The bad taste of the 200 fly was erased.
Number 18 and 19 for my career so far!!! Omg I'm speechless right now!lockerz.com/s/230016371— Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) July 31, 2012
Aug. 1-2: 200-Meter Individual Medley
He won it in Athens and Beijing, along with the World Championships in 2007, 2005 and 2003. But he slipped to second last year.
No worries this year. He led at every turn, winning in 1:54.27, just 0.04 seconds off the Olympic record. Friend and rival Ryan Lochte took silver, swimming well but not as dominating as he was in the 400-meter version of this event. That's the end of the Lochte-Phelps rivalry unless Phelps changes his mind about this whole "retirement" thing.
And that's 20 medals, 16 gold.
Aug. 2-3: 100-Meter Butterfly
He was second in the 2005 World Championships, then golden in 2004 and 2008 and world champ in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Aug. 4: 4x100-Meter Medley Relay
The USA will be overwhelming favorites to send Phelps out a winner in his last Olympic event.
He says this is it, and he plans to sit on the beach...without going in the water.
With his recognizable face and frame, he should be a viable commercial endorser for years to come. And so far, there's no indication that he's planning to marry into the Kardashian family.