He was the bullied kid who rose from a working class background to become a sporting phenomenon - and in the 2008 Olymics Michael Phelps joined a unique band of Olympic greats.
The 23-year-old swimming sensation stormed into the record books with an 11th gold medal, his fifth at these games.
Not even faulty goggles could stop the man they call Superfish adding another gong to his incredible haul.
If computer experts could build the best swimmer on the planet, they would probably come up with Michael Phelps.
He has a 6ft 7in reach, is 6ft 5in tall and recovers from racing faster than any other man alive.
Michael said: "If you sell yourself short, you never reach your potential."
Marketing men, merchandisers and NBC TV paid £424million to Olympic organisers to ensure Michael was beamed out prime time in the United States.
The entire swim programme was duly changed so the finals were in the morning.
It is all a far cry from Michael's days as a troubled schoolboy in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was bullied over his big ears and lisp and suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
His state trooper dad Fred did not speak to him for years, and his mum Debbie struggled with her son's problems, which made him hyperactive and difficult to deal with.
Teacher Debbie said: "In kindergarten I was told, 'Michael can't sit still, Michael can't be quiet, he can't focus. I said, 'maybe he's bored'.
"But they told me 'Your son will never be able to focus on anything'."
Michael was put on permanent medication because of his ADHD. But after two years he told his mum he did not want to take the drugs any more. Swimming became his refuge. The third and youngest child, Michael followed sisters Hilary and Whitney to the North Baltimore Aquatics Club. It was also an escape from his family problems.
Separated before Michael was born, the Phelps made final their split just as their son started to swim competitively at the age of seven and discover his amazing talent.
His dispute with his father created a rift which threatened to overshadow his sporting exploits. But three days after his son's high-school graduation in 2003, Fred visited the family's townhouse in Baltimore.
He was told his boy's two complimentary tickets to the world championships in Barcelona would go to his mother and Hilary. Fred walked out and missed his son's graduation party.
The pair only made up just before the Olympic Games in Athens.
But his mother has remained by his side throughout his career, and is in Beijing as the records fall - he has set new world bests in each swim.
His medals haul has beat all the greats - the nine golds won by sprinter Carl Lewis, swimmer Mark Spitz, Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina and Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi.
On this incredible form Michael remains on target to surpass Spitz's achievement of seven gold medals in one games.
He keeps up his incredible energy by consuming 12,000 calories a day - six times that of the average bloke his age.
He starts his day with three fried egg sandwiches. Two more carb-packed meals follow before he rounds the day off with pasta and a whole pizza.
Michael's quest for glory has been helped by Beijing's Water Cube, according to one of Britain's most successful swimmers Karen Pickering.
The 36-year-old also said the pool is the reason so many records are being made.
Karen added: "It's inside so swimmers don't have to deal with the wind, rain, humidity or heat. They only use 10 of the eight lanes to race, meaning waves disperse at the outsides and don't splash back on the swimmers. The pool is at deck level, so the water dissipates and doesn't bounce back.
"And it's very deep which means waves from the kicking go down a long way but don't come back up and hit swimmers."
PHELPS' GOLD TALLY SO FAR..
14 August: 400m individual medley: Gold Medal, World Record: 4:08.26.
17 August: 200m butterfly: Gold Medal, Olympic Record: 1:54.04.
17 August: 4 x 200m freestyle relay: Gold Medal, National Record: 7:07.33.
19 August: 200m individual medley: Gold Medal, Olympic Record: 1:57.14.
20 August: 100m butterfly: Gold Medal, Olympic Record: 51.25.
21 August: 4 x 100m medley relay: Gold Medal, World Record: 3:30.68.
August 10: 400m individual medley: Gold Medal, World Record: 4:03.84.
August 11: 4 x 100m freestyle relay: Gold Medal, World Record: 3:08.24.
August 12: 200m freestyle: Gold Medal, World Record: 1:42.96.
August 13: 200m butterfly: Gold Medal, World Record: 1:52.03.
August 13: 4 x 200m freestyle: Gold Medal, World Record: 6:58.56
MEDALS HE'S STILL AFTER..
And the three he could still collect in Beijing:
August 15: 200m individual medley. August 16: 100m butterfly.
August 17: 4 x 100m medley relay.
THE GREATS HE'S NOW BEATEN..
With his incredible tally of 11 gold medals - won in Beijing and four years ago in Athens - US swimmer Michael Phelps is now the most successful Olympian in history.
He has overtaken fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz, Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina, US sprint and long jump legend Carl Lewis and Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi.
They only got nine golds each...
How he swims like a fish...
His large hands act as paddles to propel him through the water
Unlike almost all other humans, his armspan is, at 6ft 7in, two inches wider than his height
Pumps more than 30 litres of blood per minute to his major muscle groups, twice the average. Helps him to compete at his outstanding level two or three times a day
His remarkably narrow waist increases his aero-dynamism in the water
TORSO & LEGS
He has a long torso and comparatively short but powerful legs, providing minimal resistance in the water
He has giant size 14 feet - dubbed flippers
Phelps eats a colossal 12,000 calories a day.
His daily intake is six times that of the average man of the same age.
Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise.
He follows that up with two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelette, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.
A pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayo on white bread.
Plus 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.
Another pound of pasta and an entire pizza, washed down with another 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.
His Official Site
From Wikipedia:Michael Fred Phelps (born June 30, 1985, in Baltimore, Maryland) is an American swimmer. He is a 14-time Olympic gold medalist (the most by any Olympian) and he currently holds seven world records in swimming.
Phelps holds the record for the most gold medals won at a single Olympics with the eight golds he won at the 2008 Olympic Games. With this record, he surpassed Mark Spitz (pictured below), who was also a swimmer and had held the previous gold medal total with the seven that he won at the 1972 Olympic Games.
Overall, Phelps has won 16 Olympic medals: six gold and two bronze at Athens in 2004, and eight gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. In winning these medals, he has twice equaled Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin's record of eight medals (of any type) at a single Olympics; Dityatin garnered eight at the 1980 Summer Olympics, while Phelps won eight medals at both the 2004 Summer Olympics and the 2008 Summer Olympics. Out of his eight gold medals from Beijing, five were won in individual events, tying the record for individual gold medals at a single Games originally set by Eric Heiden in the 1980 Winter Olympics and equaled by Vitaly Scherbo at the 1992 Summer Games. Phelps ranks second in total career Olympic medals, after Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, who won a total of 18 medals (nine gold) spanning three Olympic Games.
Phelps's international titles, along with his various world records, have resulted in him being awarded the World Swimmer of the Year Award in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007 and American Swimmer of the Year Award in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007. Phelps has won a total of 48 career medals thus far: 40 gold, six silvers and two bronze. This includes all of the Championships in which he has competed: The Olympics, the World Championships, and the Pan Pacific Championships.
Phelps was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood. He graduated from Towson High School in 2003. His father, Fred Phelps, worked for the Maryland State Police and his mother, Debbie Davisson Phelps, is a middle school principal. The two divorced in 1994. Michael, whose nickname is "MP", has two older sisters, Whitney and Hilary. Both of them were swimmers as well, with Whitney coming close to making the U.S. national team for the 1996 Summer Olympics before injuries derailed her career.
In his youth, Phelps was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He started swimming at age seven, partly because of the influence of his sisters and partly to provide him with an outlet for his energy. He excelled as a swimmer, and by the age of 10 held a national record for his age group. More age group records followed, and Phelps's rapid improvement culminated in his qualifying for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the age of 15.
In November 2004, at the age of 19, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Salisbury, Maryland. He pleaded guilty to driving while impaired the following month and was granted probation before judgment and ordered to serve 18 months probation, fined $250, obligated to speak to high school students about drinking and driving and had to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) meeting. Questioned about the incident later that month by Matt Lauer on the Today Show, Phelps said it was an "isolated incident" and that he had "definitely let myself down and my family down...I think I let a lot of people in the country down."
Between 2004 and 2008, Phelps attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, studying sports marketing and management. In May 2008, Phelps said he intends to return to Baltimore following the 2008 Olympics, joining Bob Bowman there when he leaves the University of Michigan, saying, "I'm not going to swim for anybody else. I think we can both help the North Baltimore Aquatic Club go further. I'm definitely going to be in Baltimore next year." The club has announced that Bowman is leaving the University of Michigan to become the club's CEO. Phelps purchased a house in the Fells Point section of Baltimore, where he intends to reside after returning from the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Phelp's teammates call him "Gomer" because he reminds them of Gomer Pyle, the good-natured, naive country boy played by Jim Nabors on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C..
He has made an estimated $5 million per year in endorsements, plus a $1 million bonus from swimsuit maker Speedo for winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Physique and lifestyle
Five physical attributes particularly suit Phelps to swimming: his long, thin torso (low drag in the water), arms which span 6 feet 7 inches (201 cm) (long, powerful, propulsive "paddles") disproportionate to his height of 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm), relatively short legs (lower drag, and perhaps the speed enhancement of a hydrofoil), coupled to size 14 feet (providing the effect of flippers) by hypermobile ankles he can extend beyond the pointe of a ballet dancer, enabling him to whip his feet (as if they were fins, for maximum thrust through [if not over] the water).
In a front page illustrated article profiling Phelps on the eve of the 2008 Summer Olympics, The Baltimore Sun described the hometown swimmer as "a solitary man" with a "rigid focus" at the pool prior to a race, but afterwards "a man incredibly invested in the success of the people he cares about". Bowman told a Sun interviewer, "He's unbelievably kind-hearted", recounting Phelps's interaction with young children after practices.
According to an article in The Guardian, Phelps eats around 12,000 kcal each day, or about six times the intake of a normal adult male.
Throughout the 2008 Olympics, Phelps was questioned by the press if perhaps his feats were "too good to be true", a reference to unsupported rumors that Phelps may be taking performance enhancing drugs. In response, Phelps noted that he had signed up for Project Believe, a project by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in which U.S. Olympians can volunteer to be tested in excess of the World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines. During the Games, Phelps was tested nine times, and passed all of them.