Though he isn’t competing in the Tokyo Olympics this year, swimming legend Michael Phelps might just be Team USA’s biggest fan.
Since arriving in Tokyo, Phelps and his wife Nicole have cheered on Team USA at multiple sports and events. But of course, the four-time Olympian and greatest swimmer in the world has spent most of his time at the Tokyo Olympics Aquatics Center supporting the U.S. swimming teams.
On Wednesday night, Phelps stopped by the women’s 4×200-meter free relay, where the U.S. won silver. Fellow swimming icon Katie Ledecky anchored the team in its final stretch toward victory, just beating out Australia to clinch that second-place spot.
Afterward, Phelps leaned out from the stands to take a celebratory selfie with the team down by the pool. He posted the photo on Instagram and said, “Congrats ladies!!”
Earlier today, the Olympic legend posted another pic with the team, all wearing their medals. The six swimmers grinned and waved American flags while they snapped a shot with a masked Phelps. For this post, he captioned it, “44 medals total….. That’s a lot.”
It is a lot, especially when 28 of those medals come from him. Phelps is known as the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, a title he richly deserves. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics alone, Phelps clinched eight gold medals in eight events. He now has 23 golds to his name, plus three silvers and two bronzes.
U.S. Women’s Swim Team Medal Count at Tokyo Olympics
But what about the other 16 medals “located” in the pic? Look no further than fellow four-time Olympian Allison Schmitt for 10 of those medals. In addition to snagging the silver in the 4×200-meter free relay, the 31-year-old also won the bronze in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay this year.
Admittedly, Schmitt’s Tokyo Olympics performance wasn’t as good as her run in Rio in 2016. For those same two relays, Schmitt and Team USA won the gold and silver medals, respectively. She also won three golds at the 2012 London games, plus a silver and a bronze. Her Olympic debut in Beijing only resulted in a single bronze medal for the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
Schmitt definitely has the most experience out of the relay members, four of whom are competing in their first-ever Olympics. Katie McLaughlin, Bella Sims, Brooke Forde, and Paige Madden all have the single silver medal to their name and are all 23 years old or younger.
That leaves just two more medals to make up Phelps’ count of 44. They belong to two-time Olympian Hali Flickinger, who won the bronze in both the 400-meter individual medley and 200-meter butterfly this year.
But one famous swimmer is noticeable absent from the pic: Katie Ledecky. If she’d been included, Phelps’ medal count would’ve shot up to 53. Back in London in 2012, she picked up a gold for the 800-meter freestyle. But Rio is really where Ledecky shined. She won four gold and one silver at that competition, while this year in Tokyo she’s only managed one gold and two silver.
But the competition isn’t over yet, so we’ll see where Ledecky lands in the upcoming 800-meter final on Saturday.