As I watched U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz dominate the 1976 Olympics with his perfect seven for seven gold medal winning performance, I was positive I was watching the greatest male swimmer of all-times. That previously unimaginable achievement was a once in a lifetime perfect alignment of the stars that simply couldn’t be topped. No way, no how. And I’m sure Spitz himself walked away from the sport after that performance feeling that way as well. And when young teen Michael Phelps came away from his first Olympic performance in 2000 with no medals in hand, no one perceived him to be a threat to dethrone Spitz. But just like another Mr. Phelps, he gladly accepted the challenge of this “mission impossible” and in the end not only exceeded but far surpassed Mr. Spitz in single and total Olympic performances. After that initial no medal performance in 2000, Phelps returned to the Olympic pool four years later in ’04 to almost surpass Spitz by winning 6 gold and 2 bronze medals. This followed his 4 gold and 2 silver medals, along with 5 world record times, performance in the 2003 World Aquatic Championships. It was an outstanding effort which put Phelps firmly in the conversation along with Spitz as to the greatest of all-times. He could have easily walked away from the pool as Spitz did after this incredible performance. But this Mr. Phelps was just getting warmed up. Returning again four years later in ’08 at Beijing, Phelps accomplished the goal of the best ever Olympic performance by exceeding Spitz’ 7 gold medal performance by doing the impossible in winning 8 gold medals. In addition, between ’04 and ’08 he added an additional 17 World Aquatic Championship gold medals to his total. This feat made him easily the greatest male swimmer of all-time having surpassed all swimmers in both the single and total Olympic accomplishments. But Mr. Phelps wasn’t done with the record books just yet. In ’12, he returned to the Olympics once again and ran his medal total up to 18 gold and 22 medals total making him the most decorated Olympian of all-time by surpassing Soviet Olympian gymnast Larisa Latynina who previously held the record with 18 total Olympic medals. Many believed that surely at that point, with all the records in hand, Mr. Phelps would ride off into the sunset. But not so fast. Mr. Phelps wasn’t quite through yet. He decided to return one more time for his fifth consecutive Olympics inĀ 2016 in Rio. And he did not disappoint. In winning 5 more gold medals and 1 silver, Mr. Phelps ran his incredible record total to 28 medals, 23 gold, before announcing his retirement from the pool at age 31. For all the above and more, Michael Phelps is without a doubt the greatest, and most decorated, male swimmer of all-times. He is also the most decorated, and arguably the greatest, Olympic performer of all-time. Well done Mr. Phelps!