The most decorated and successful Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps has seemingly done it all and he’s only 33 years old. He holds the record for most medals by an Olympian with 28, and also has the most gold medals with 23. At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, he won eight gold medals, breaking the 36-year-old record held by fellow swimmer Mark Spitz for most first-place finishes in one Olympics.
In his time competing in the Olympics, he carried much of the slack for the American national swim team. He had American viewers’ eyes glued to the television when he was competing. He popularized swimming in the Olympics in the U.S. and was a role model to many young boys and girls around the country.
After his exposure in Beijing, Phelps did like most athletes when they start to gain a big following and started his own foundation. He created the Michael Phelps Foundation. After returning home, he embarked on an eight-city tour across the U.S., spreading his message about hard work and determination to Boys and Girls Club members. In 2009, he teamed up with KidsHealth.Org to develop his signature program, im, named after Phelps’ signature event the Individual Medley. The program is a water safety, wellness and goal-setting initiative for Boys and Girls Club of America members and Special Olympics International athletes.
Along with the im program, Phelps and several other Olympians launched the Level Field Fund, grants that provide funding for uniquely talented athletes who seek financial support. Along with the fund, he also puts on an annual Golf Gala and donates money from signed swim caps to charity.
Although Phelps hung up the swim cap a few years ago, he is still giving back to the swim community, even volunteering as an assistant coach with the Arizona State swim team. The most decorated Olympian in history is also one of the biggest philanthropists in sports.