Michael Phelps wins ESPY Award for Record-Breaking Performance

In the post-Olympic year, swimmers received a historic 10 nominations for honors at the 2017 ESPY Awards. The awards show, produced by ESPN, recognizes the best in sports from the prior year, with a heavy American lean, and for swimmers, especially American swimmers, that was a record-breaking year.

It’s fitting, then, that the first swimmer to win an award on Wednesday evening in Los Angeles was Michael Phelps, who won the ESPY for Best Record-Breaking Performance. Phelps won the award over 2 basketball players and a football coach, which shows the power of his Olympic medal count. In a year where Bill Belichick broke the record for championships by a coach in the highest-profile sport in the country, Russell Westbrook had an unprecedented season in the megalithic NBA, and Diana Taurusi broke an all-time scoring record, Phelps stood out among 3 who in the last year pushed themselves ahead of the best in the history of their respective sports.

For Phelps’ record, his only competition within his sport for greatest ever was himself. He entered 2016 with the record for most Olympic medals and gold medals, and by winning 5 more gold in Rio and a silver, extended both records to an unprecedented 23 and 28, respectively.

Phelps’ performance in Rio cemented his legacy – especially by the route he took to get there. He retired after the London Olympics, came back, was arrested for DUI, went to rehab, and even at 31-years old, past the age of most swimmers’ prime, re-established himself in a short time as the best male swimmer in the world. His performance in Rio effectively eliminated any complaints about how his records aren’t reasonable because of the number of medals available in swimming: Phelps was a dominant swimmer for four-straight Olympic Games. If swimming were to give out one set of medals to each gender on the totality of their performance, Phelps would have received it in Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio – which highlights the breadth of his dominance as an individual sport athlete.

Phelps has been nominated for 16 ESPYs in his career, and with still more nominations to go on Wednesday, this is his 8th win.


  • Bill Belichick: Most Super Bowl wins by a coach
  • X — Michael Phelps: Extends his own record for most gold medals
  • Diana Taurasi: Breaks WNBA career scoring record
  • Russell Westbrook: Most triple doubles in a season


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Isn’t it 4 straight Olympic Games and not three? 2004 2008 2012 and 2016


It’s 5 200 also




I wasn’t counting 2000 since he wasn’t a dominant force yet like article mentioned. And I see they changed it to 4:) good job!


I am a Pats fan first, and a swim fan 2nd. Coach deserved this one. Go Pats!

Just sayin

Ehhhhhh it took Phelps his entire career to achieve something no one else will probably even get close to. Besides although I’m not really a Pats fan they have an above average shot at winning again next year and for a while as long as Brady stays healthy .

Lane Four

Nope. This one belonged to Phelps and the sport of swimming. Football gets more than its share of press and awards. This one was Michael’s all the way.


Coach still has years. His time will come.


Falcons choked.


Michael Phelps deserves to win every single award he’s nominated to. PERIOD!
His accomplishments are beyond human nature.
Just for perspective: the simple fact that he competed on fials of five Olympic Games, means he’s on top of his game for about TWENTY years!!!
What other athlete/coach ever did it??




There were certainly a few years of training before the first games…

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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