Michael Phelps Believes There is Someone Out There Who Will One Day Pass His 23 Medal Tally

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Phelps is the most decorated swimmer in the sport’s history and has more Olympic medals than any human in history with 28, ahead of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina who has 18 across three Olympics from 1956-1964.

Although what Phelps has done was unprecedented, he wants kids to believe that they are fully capable of achieving what he achieved.

“A lot of people thought that what I did was impossible,” Phelps told The National, a newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates.

“If there is a kid out there who is truly willing to dream, dream as big as he can that he will literally shock himself, then anything is possible.”

Phelps was in Dubai for the opening of the Under Armour Store in Dubai Mall on Monday.

“Records are made to be broken and I truly wish there is a little boy or girl out there who wants to do it and believes they can,” Phelps said.

Phelps didn’t mention anyone specifically by name if they could potentially match his 28 Olympic medals. Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin, Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson have the most medals by swimmers after Phelps with 12. It took 32 years between Mark Spitz’ last Olympic medal and Phelps’ first, so it could potentially take that long or longer before we see someone seriously challenge Phelps’ medal count.

But Phelps wanted to ensure that it isn’t impossible.

Phelps also talked about doping in sport and how he hopes greater curbs can be placed.

“For me, the one frustrating thing I see in my sport, swimming, is some people who feel that they deserve to be given something, rather than working for it,” he said.

“That frustrates me, because I know how hard it is to get to the top.”

This is not the first time Phelps has spoken out about doping in swimming, although he did not mention swimming specifically when he was in Dubai.

“I hope in sports in the coming years we will get people who do emerge. There has to be people out there who are hungry enough, and hopefully they are doing it the right way.

“We can talk about doping. That is something that has to change. For sports to really grow and change, for me, I would really like to see federations step up and police certain things, so we are competing on a level playing field.”

What a blast today!! @underarmour Just opened a new store in Dubai !!! Can't wait til I get to come back!

A post shared by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on

To read the original report from The National, click here.

50 Comments

50 comments

  1. Zach Burr

    The crazy thing is it gets harder to be world class with each passing year. If you look at mark spitz’s times he wouldn’t even make finals at nationals nowadays. Could you imagine how hard it would be to beat Phelps’ record of 23 gold medals, if his best times don’t even make top 8 at nationals? Pretty crazy.

    • Pablo Zapata

      And while Kalisz is on the come up, Phelps 400 IM time is still untouched in 9 years closest being lochte in London and I think that’ll be the last of his records to be broken

    • Zach Burr

      Pablo Zapata 200fly is pretty untouchable

  2. Frank Wang

    It could be true but really hard, same as the records that Usain Bolt made. Two talented athletes😊

    • Carole Machol-Atler

      Easier? Have you any clue about how difficult his schedule was? Prelims, Semis, Finals? No, not easier…

    • Michael Fleming

      You seem to have misunderstood what I said. They have added events to the swimming schedule including an extra relay. This will make the road for a future swimmer easier than it was for Phelps

    • Dave Hoover

      Oh yeah….Caleb Dressing already has made him inconsequential going forward. Schooling’s gold medal count is done at one.

  3. Davina Farrell

    That is easy. Katie Ledecky will surpass him soon 😉

    • Ivan Picado

      No way…. 23 golds ok olympic Games….! That’s an impossible feat to achieve…

    • Dave Hoover

      As awesome as she is, she’s already lagging behind. There is no way she’ll ever win 7-8 golds in a single olympics just to keep pace.

    • Hannah Davies

      She is awesome but doesn’t have the versatility of Phelps

      • avatar
        Sammy

        World Championship LC gold medal comparison at age 20, both after three World Championships, and no mixed relays:

        Katie Ledecky, 14 gold medals, 10 in individual events
        Michael Phelps, 10 gold medals, 6 in individual events

      • avatar
        Claire

        Ledecky can swim the 100-200-400-800-1500 Freestyle at an elite level, has won three of those events in three straight World Championships (something MP has never done and no one else has ever done) and she broke the AR in 400 IM last year SCY in NCAA action. That’s pretty versatile. MP won just one Olympic race in individual Freestyle (200 Free in 2008 Beijing), the rest were in medley or butterfly. Ledecky’s distance range exceeds MP. From a versatility standpoint, why would Team USA wish to deploy KL in other strokes, any more so than it would have deployed MP in distance free?

    • Davina Farrell

      Interesting? . . .
      I have never seen Phelps swim sprint and distance. He has never swum more than a 200. Katie does both. She is also a versatile swimmer in that respect.
      To set the record straight, Phelps did not win any medals in his first Olympics (Sydney, Australia) while Katie did (London). She added 4 more gold and a silver in Rio.
      If you haven’t heard, they will be adding more swim events in the next summer Olympics, too. That can increase her medal count. Furthermore, Katie is young enough and fast enough to do several more Olympics 😉

    • Dave Hoover

      She can win an impossible six golds (for her) over each of the next three consecutive Olympics and be 31 at the end of it and STILL be short.

    • David Moreno

      Dave Hoover she has 5 medals so far and would tie Phelps if she received 6 medals the next three Olympics. She has a better chance then most others.

  4. Vitali Pushkar

    Yep, it’s him if he comes back for another Olympics …

  5. Meg Murphy

    It may sound like a crazy feet, but if you think about any post-race/match/whatever interview you have ever heard…I find the have something in common. The athlete never takes all of the credit and finds their success in the ever constant challenge presented by other competitors. It is the internal drive these amazing people have that keep them pushing the envelope and raising the bar. I love that Phelps thinks he can be beat-it shows he is and always will be an athlete that cares for his sport.

  6. avatar
    Lane Four

    Not going to happen for a very very very loooooooong time. Nope.

  7. Nadia Gagliardi

    It will only happen with additional technology. Would be great. Great that he doesn’t think he’s unbeatable.

  8. Mari Nguyen

    I think it’s great that you inspire greatness from people esp our youth!

  9. Carolyn McDonald

    Be very hard to pass tally as most athletes specialise these days.He is a perfectionist in all strokes a legend🤗

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Author: Andy Ross

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Andy Ross graduated Cum Laude from Southern Illinois University where he studied Radio and Television and Journalism. He is a native of West Lafayette, Indiana and has been on board with Swimming World since January 2015.

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