Michael Phelps continues to add to his legacy as the most decorated Olympian of all-time.
On Wednesday, the 31-year-old became the first American male swimmer to qualify for five Olympic teams. Now slated to head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to add to his laundry list of accomplishments, he currently owns 22 Olympic medals in all.
“With everything that’s happened, being able to come back, that’s probably harder than any swim I’ve had in my life,” said Phelps.
The veteran swimmer and Olympian finished first in the men’s 200-meter butterfly at the United States’ trials to secure his spot in Rio de Janeiro. Finishing with an official time of 1:54:84, he edged second-place finisher Tom Shields, who also automatically qualified for this summer’s festivities by finishing in the top two alongside his counterpart in Phelps.
Visibly displaying how much the moment truly meant to him upon the public address announcer revealing his time from Wednesday’s competition, Phelps raised up his hand with his five fingers representing his five trips to the Olympics.
Despite previously retiring while encountering some legal trouble along the way, he earned an unheard-of eight gold medals in Beijing to accompany another six medals in London, four of which were gold. Now heading to Brazil to add to his heralded medal count, Phelps will likely swim in multiple events, which ultimately depends on how he fares in the other individual events throughout the week.
“Just being able to finish how I want to is so important to me,” Phelps added. “Getting on this team is what I wanted to do.”