Coughlin 3G 4S
Spitz 9G 1S
Lochte 5G 2S
Biondi 8G 2S
Torres 4G 4S
The closest is Spitz who Phelps could double, or very nearly double, as far as number of Golds go before all is said and done. The others aren't even close.
Ok. But I think I made my point, that swimmers have historically had great medal count success in Olympic careers, phelps is not the first. Although he is the statistically greatest of the bunch.
But it's only a small part of my larger argument. Medal number shouldn't be the end all factor. Just because we're stuck in the stupid- post Michael Jordan era of championship counting and "how many rings doeshe have" sports discussion, doesn't mean that's all there is to sports. And I mean that.
There are other ways to measure and judge the term "greatest Olympian ever" that are as valuable as medal success or more. Phelps is the best swimmer ever, but to me, he is not the greatest Olympian ever.
For one thing, the impact he has has isn't as great as was Jesse Owens. Who is the greatest
Phelps wins another gold today. I understand the ceiling is higher for swimmers, but he's going to finish being more than twice as good as the second best swimmer ever.
Phelps will win at least one more gold before the London games are over. If the US doesn't win the medley relay, I'll be shocked.
Mary Lou Retton will always be my favorite Olympic athlete
Sweet sweet Mary Lou
With all that said, his fitness level in this Olympics seems to have been showing that he has been stronger in the shorter races. His split in the 4x100 Free relay was great and he was out fast today in the 200 IM, but struggled at the end of the 200 Fly and just didn't have it in the 400 IM.
And yes, decathletes are track athletes who compete in multiple events. But those athletes aren't the ones ever talked about when discussing the GOAT. That's because, typically, they aren't the best in the world at many (or any) of the events involved. There are some exceptions (Jim Thorpe springs to mind), but by an large, decathletes are jacks of all trades, kings of none.