July — Sets new 13-14 age group mark in the 200-meter butterfly (2:04.59) at Speedo Junior Championships in Orlando, Fla. Old mark of 2:05.72 stood since 1980.
August — In Indianapolis, he wins the 200-meter butterfly at the Olympic Trials in time of 1:54.92 and at age 15 becomes the youngest male swimmer to qualify for the United States Olympic team since 1932.
September — Finishes fifth in the 200 butterfly (1:56.50) at the Sydney Olympics. Gold medal won by Tom Malchow (1:55.35) who Phelps defeated at the Olympic Trials a month earlier.
June — Phelps finishes his sophomore year at Towson High and is named Towson Times Male Athlete of the Year. He is the second Olympian from Towson to earn Athlete of the Year honors. 1994 Towson Catholic graduate Anita Nall, a gold medal winner in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, won the award in 1991.
July — Less than a month after turning 16, he establishes world record time of 1:54.58 in the 200 butterfly at the World Aquatics Championships in Kukuoka, Japan.
August — Wins three gold medals at the Pan Pacific Swim Championships at Yokohama, Japan. He captured individual golds in the 200 individual medley (1:59.70) and 400 IM (4:12.48) and was on the world-record setting 400 medley relay team with Aaron Piersol, Brendan Hansen and Jason Lezak. Their time of 3:33.48 was bettered by the same quartet in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when they won gold in a world-record time of 3:29.34.
May — Phelps graduates from Towson High.
July — At world championships in Barcelona, Spain he wins five gold medals and sets five world records.
Aug. 14 — Phelps wins his first Olympic gold medal and the first of the Athens Olympic Games when he triumphs in the 400 individual medley. His world record time of 4:08.26 was over three seconds faster than silver medalist and fellow countrymen Eric Vendt.
Aug. 21 — The relay team of Ian Crocker, Hansen, Piersol and Lezak win the 400 medley relay in world record time and earns the gold medal. Phelps, who swam in the preliminary heat the day before, also gets a gold medal, his sixth of the Athens games and eighth overall. Phelps gave up his spot in the relay final so Crocker could get his first gold medal.
July — Wins five gold medals and a silver in the world championships held in Montreal, Canada.
August — Sets world records in the 200 butterfly (153.80) and 200 IM (1:55.84) while winning five gold medals and a silver at the Pan Pacific Championships in Victoria, British Columbia.
March — Wins seven gold medals and set five world records at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia.
Aug. 10 — Phelps wins gold medal in 400 IM in world-record time of 4:03.83.
Aug. 11 — Jason Lezak, swimming the anchor leg in the 400 freestyle relay, pulls off a miraculous comeback in the final 50 meters as the United States nips France by .08 seconds, giving Phelps his second gold medal.
Aug. 12 — Phelps wins 200 freestyle in world-record time of 1:42.96.
Aug. 13 — Despite swimming with water in his goggles, Phelps wins the 200 butterfly, but felt he could have gone way under his world-record time of 1:52.03. His 10th gold medal is the most of any athlete in Olympic history.
Aug. 13 — Phelps is part of the 800 relay team that wins gold convincingly. Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay finished in 6:58.51, 4.68 seconds faster than the previous world record.
Aug. 15 — Phelps wins his sixth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics, capturing the 200 IM (1:54.23).
Aug. 16 — In his closest call of the Olympic meet, Phelps rallies from seventh place and .62 seconds behind Serbia freestyler Milorad Cavic with 50 meters left in the 100 butterfly. Phelps touches the wall first — a mere .01 seconds ahead of Cavic. Although his time of 50.58 was an Olympic record, it was the only event he didn’t set a new world standard.
Aug. 17 — Swimming the third leg in the 400 medley relay, Phelps rallies the United States past Australia and Japan and freestyle anchor Lezak completes the gold-medal swim to help Phelps earn his eighth gold medal. His eight gold medals surpass Mark Spitz’s seven set in 1972. It is his 14th overall gold medal and 16th medal in two Olympics earning him the distinction of being the winningest Olympian in history.
— Craig Clary