At some point during the Phelps Odyssey, you knew while you were watching that this guy was the greatest swimmer who ever lived, the greatest one living, and the greatest who ever will.
It isn't too often you live to see the best at something. But we lived it, followed it, heard its every word and watched its every move.
Instead of being referred to as the "Michael Jordan of swimming," Michael Phelps has solidified his legend enough to flip the script. After winning eight gold medals in eight events and breaking seven world records, he's earned it. Michael Jordan is now the Michael Phelps of basketball.
Phelps did it perfectly. Some races he won by a silly amount of lengths, some by the slimmest of margins (100 fly, anyone?), but he won them all. Like Ace said, hollywood couldn't have scripted this shit. Part of the reason for this was because of how real it was, and how real he was. Out of the pool, he was just a guy about our age who loved Young Jeezy, walked the streets of Ann Arbor, and wasn't very photogenic. In the pool was another story. There was speculation about which galaxy his home planet was located, what time he had come from, and perhaps the most ridiculous of all, what kind of steroids he was taking. The truth remains that Michael Phelps is just an average dude who rises distinctly above average when he jumps in a pool. And that is what made this whole ride so special. We were hanging on every race to see this guy do what all thought impossible and when he finally did it, he reacted the way we would have: he couldn't find the words to say.
Think for one second about the expectations placed on Phelps' shoulders before the Olympics even began. Eight gold medals? Really? Nobody in the history of sport has been under more pressure to accomplish a mission more impossible.
He stared down these lofty goals because they were his own. We weren't the only ones who thought he could do this. In fact, he didn't think-he knew. Phelps is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete, one who had near unlimited potential, and reached it. Maybe even exceeded it.
In the end, it was the greatest performance of any Olympian ever, and it was the ride that made it so. Thanks Michael, for every second of it. You represented the United States beautifully, and you will always be known as one of the greatest athletes who ever lived.