Michael Phelps made himself into the foremost Golden Boy of the U. S. Olympic team in the 2000s on his way to becoming the most prolific gold-medalist in the event's history. A Maryland-born wunderkind, Phelps made the U.S. national swimming team at age 15, growing into a lithe 6'4" youth with incredible power in the water. He put his sport on notice in international competition in 2001, becoming the youngest male athlete to set a world record at the World Aquatics Championships. Returning to the U.S. team for the 2004 Olympics, he garnered six gold medals and two bronze, becoming the most celebrated swimmer since Olympic great Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in 1972. Phelps would be the frontispiece of Olympic hopes and marketing four years later when he eclipsed Spitz's record with eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympiad. In spite of a raft of major corporations inking his endorsement and likeness for advertising, including Visa, Subway, PowerBar, Under Armour and Kellogg Co., he made nearly as many headlines when images of him smoking marijuana surfaced in the wake of Beijing. He nevertheless returned for what he insisted would be his final Olympiad, the London 2012 Games, and secured another four gold and two silver medals, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time, having claimed 18 gold and 22 medals total. Phelps became one of those rare Olympic athletes whose singular talents bolted him beyond the limitations of quadrennial stardom to become a crossover celebrity.