Sports Olympics

In-depth: Michael Phelps

Swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a career total of 22 medals — 18 of them gold. But numbers only tell part of the story: The Rodgers Forge native transformed the sport, attracting more participants and greater media attenton than it had ever enjoyed. While Phelps retired after the London 2012 Games — his fourth and final Olympics, he said — there are continual rumors or perhaps simply wishful thinking that he will attempt a comeback at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

BORN: June 30, 1985, in Towson, Md.

OUT OF THE POOL: Phelps maintains a competitive streak on dry land as well. He worked on his golf game on the reality show, The Haney Project; he and his longtime swimming coach Bob Bowman are raising thoroughbred horses; he is an avid fan of the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: At 15-years-old, he was youngest American male swimmer in decades to compete in the Olympic Games. His eight-for-eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Games remains one of the most exciting athletic feats. In London, he tied and then surpassed the previous record for most decorated Olympian, the 18 won by Soviet-era gymnast Larisa Latynina.

PERSONAL: Mother, Debbie Phelps; father, Fred Phelps; sisters, Whitney Flickinger and Hilary Phelps