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Michael Phelps Retirement: Why No Other Olympian Will Ever Match His Greatness

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Michael Phelps of the United States competes in the Men’s 100m Butterfly Final on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images
Chris HummerAnalyst IAugust 4, 2012

Four Olympic Games and 22 medals later, Michael Phelps is retiring as the greatest Olympian ever.

And he will always stay that way.

Phelps' accomplishments are incredible. He won his first gold medal at only 15 years old, and now, only 12 years later, he has 18 of them.

That's more gold medals than most countries have in their history, and Phelps has done it over only four games.

He has dominated the sport of swimming for an extended period of time like only few athletes ever have. Michael Jordan in the Bulls' run of six titles, Tiger Woods in his heyday and Muhammad Ali during his reigns as champ.

Now, Phelps belongs in that group.

He's destroyed his competition at every step, with his incredible mix of natural talent and unrivaled work ethic.

He's swam more races in one Olympics than most swimmers will complete in a year, and was still seemingly fresh on every leg.

His ability to excel every time out has been a sight to see, and, as crazy as it is, his greatness became the norm.

So, when he finished fourth in the 400-meter medley people were saying he was done, even though he just had an off race in the most difficult test in swimming.

It didn’t take Phelps long to prove his doubters wrong, though. He went on to win six more medals in London, and became the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Still, it just doesn't seem that people appreciate how amazing Phelps' run has been.

He's crushed the field at every turn, and has come up clutch in each and every key moment.

He's won back-to-back-to-back gold medals in two events. He's swam four races in one day. He's broken world record after world record. And he's won eight gold medals in one Olympics, a feat no one will ever match.

The guy is superhuman, and there will never be another like him, in swimming or in any sport.

No other swimmer has the potential or the will to swim and dominate as many events as Phelps has. For proof, just ask Ryan Lochte how it's worked out for him this year.

People could very well swim eight, heck even nine events in one Olympics in the future. However, winning eight golds won't happen again in any of our lifetimes, it's just too tough.

It's also impossible for an athlete from another Olympic sport to match Phelps.

Swimming presents more opportunities to medal than any other sport, besides maybe gymnastics and track. And with the short shelf life of those athletes, they will never come close to equaling Phelps’ 22-medal total.

The guy is just one of a kind.

He's the transcendent athlete that only comes along once a generation, and that's once a generation for every sport combined

So, soak it in while you can America. You’re watching the greatest Olympian ever.

There will never be another like him.

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