Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps will continue his staggering Olympic legacy in Rio this summerTom Pennington/Getty Images)

Michael Phelps made history on Wednesday night (29 June) as the first male American swimmer ever to qualify for five Olympic Games. Appearing at the US trials in Omaha, Nebraska, the 31-year-old won the men's 200m butterfly in a time of 1:54.84 to successfully seal his place at Rio 2016.

"I think that means the most tonight," Phelps, coached by Bob Bowman, said of his latest achievement. "I think just that with everything that's happened, and being able to come back, that was probably harder than any other swim I've had in my life. I didn't feel good the first two swims, and I didn't really feel that good tonight.

"Getting on the team is the most important thing, and that's the only thing I had to do tonight. I tried to take it out, and prayed to God that I would be able to hang on. I was just excited, because I had the opportunity to make my fifth. God, I've been in this sport a long time."

Phelps' 22 medals make him the most decorated Olympian of all-time. He was selected for the Sydney Games in 2000 aged just 15 and, although he did not win a place on the podium, later claimed six golds and two bronzes in Athens four years later.

Michael Phelps medals
Phelps with the 22 medals (18 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze) he won at the Olympics in Athens, Beijing and LondonAFP

The "Baltimore Bullet" added to his incredible haul and surpassed Mark Spitz with eight golds at Beijing 2008 before etching his name in the annals of sporting history by overtaking legendary Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's record with four more golds and two silvers at London 2012. He announced his retirement from swimming after that latter achievement, but boredom quickly set in and he began training once again the next year before returning to competitive competition at the Mesa Grand Prix in April 2014.

Phelps has also had to overcome problems in his personal life after being arrested and later pleading guilty to driving under the influence that same year. He was charged with a similar offence a decade ago and on this occasion received a suspended one-year prison sentence and a supervised probation term of 18 months. The Maryland native, who became a father for the first time in May after fiancee Nicole Johnson gave birth to son Boomer, attended a rehab programme and recounted his past issues in a searingly honest in-depth interview with Sports Illustrated.