BEIJING—It's been quite a ride. Michael Phelps has been bold. He's been dominating. He's been lucky. And he's even been mortal when his goggles filled with water like an age-group swimmer. The second gold, a teammate assisted, saving the day. The seventh gold, give an assist to the Omega timing touchpad. (By the way, Omega is one of his sponsors.) But in the end, with Sunday morning's win, he became the first swimmer to win eight gold medals in the same Olympics. Here's a look back at how he did it.
Sunday, Aug. 10
World Record: 4:03.84
Former Record: 4:05.25, Phelps, June 29, 2008
Mark Spitz time: Didn't compete
Second place: Laszlo Cseh (Hungary) 4:06:16
Recap: It was really pretty effortless. Phelps trailed at the first hundred but then kicked it into overdrive to make it not much of a race.
Phelps on Phelps: "I wasn't comfortable after the first 200. ... I think it made my breaststroke stronger ... coming home in the freestyle it's all adrenaline."
Monday, Aug. 11
4 X 100 freestyle relay
World record: 3:08.24
Former record: 3:12.23, U.S., Aug. 10, 2008
Spitz time: 3:26.42
Second place: France 3:08.32
Recap: Phelps was not the story of this race. It was Jason Lezak, who swam down the French star and the then world-record holder Alain Bernard on the anchor leg to keep Phelps' dream alive.
Phelps on Phelps: "This morning, (Coach) Bob (Bowman) had said the French was saying some stuff, talking a little bit of trash. It fired me up more than anything else."
Tuesday, Aug. 12
World record: 1:42.96
Former record: 1:43.86, Phelps, March 27, 2007
Spitz time: 1:52.78
Second place: Taewhan Park, South Korea, 1:44.85
Recap: It was pretty simple, Phelps was ahead at every mark, swimming a 25.98 for the first 50 meters. It was a walk in the park.
Phelps on Phelps: "I wanted to jump on the first 100 just to see what happened. The guys in the middle of the pool really wouldn't be able to see me. By the time they did, hopefully I had enough ground where I could hold them off."
Wednesday, Aug. 13
World record: 1:52.03
Former record: 1:52.09, Phelps, March 28, 2007
Spitz time: 2:00.70
Second place: Cseh, 1:52.70
Recap: The race was closer than people imagined, especially as Phelps had trouble seeing. Just one of those pesky equipment malfunctions. But in the end, if he didn't have the vision, he had the instinct to win by 3/4 of a second.
Phelps on Phelps: "I couldn't see anything for the last 100, my goggles were pretty much filling up with water. To be honest, I was having trouble seeing the walls."
Wednesday, Aug. 13
4 X 200 freestyle relay
World record: 6:58.56
Former record: 7:03.24, U.S., March 30, 2007
Spitz time: 7:35.78
Second place: Russia, 7:03.70
Recap: The U.S. team obliterated the world record. In terms of suspense, think of Secretariat winning the Belmont.
Phelps on Phelps: "We wanted to break seven minutes. That was our goal going into today. ... It definitely feels good to be the first group, first country to ever dip under the seven-minute barrier."
Friday, Aug. 14
World record: 1:54.23
Former record: 1:54.80, Phelps, July 4, 2008
Spitz time: Didn't compete
Second place: Cseh, 1:56.52
Recap: It wasn't so much this race that slowed him down it was that he had very little time between the medal ceremony and the semifinals of the 100 butterfly, about seven minutes.
Phelps on Phelps: "I had no time. The (gold) medal was in my warm-up jacket."
Saturday, Aug. 15, 2008
World record: Didn't break it
Phelps time: 50.58
Spitz time: 54.27
Second place: Milorad Cavic, Serbia, 50.59
Recap: In the second incredible finish, Phelps out-touched Cavic at the end. It was so close the result was protested by the Serbian delegation. Phelps was lucky to win this one.
Phelps on Phelps: "When I did chop the last stroke, I thought that had cost me the race. But it was actually the opposite. If I had glided, I would have been way too long. I took short, faster strokes to try to get my hand on the wall. I ended up making the right decision."
Sunday, Aug. 16, 2008
4 X 100 medley relay
World record: 3:29.34
Former record: 3:30.68, U.S., Aug. 21, 2004
Spitz time: 3:48.16
Second place: Australia, 3:30.04
Recap: Aaron Peirsol led off in the backstroke giving the U.S. a 0.2 second lead. Brendan Hansen lost the lead and Phelps took over in the butterfly giving the U.S. the lead again. Once again, Lezak is stellar and Michael Phelps made history.
Phelps on Phelps: "It's been such an unbelievable roller coaster. It's been such an unbelievable ride. With so many people saying it couldn't be done, all it took was a little imagination. I don't know what to feel right now. It's so emotional. All I want to do is go see my mom."