The comparisons are over. Michael Phelps is simply the best. The swimmer passed Mark Spitz by winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. Pat Forde

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Bowman

Pat Forde: Who is the mastermind behind this insane plan to have Michael Phelps compete in 17 swims in nine days? The man responsible for every arm stroke and dolphin kick? Meet Bob Bowman. Story

ZOOM gallery: What makes Michael Phelps so good? ESPN.com asked his coach, Bob Bowman, to break him down by each discipline. Story | Photos
• More photos: Phelps' eight golds

Eric Adelson: Once again, as he headed to Beijing, Michael Phelps was poised at a frontier of the impossible. A breakdown of why he was physically ready to meet the challenge. The Magazine | Watch

"SportsCenter": Before Michael Phelps headed to Beijing, ESPN's Hannah Storm sat down with the swimmer to talk about his insane routine and run at history. Watch: Phelps Interview

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Michael Phelps -- Race-By-Race Breakdown

Race 1 -- 400-meter individual medley
Breakdown: Phelps kept pace with teammate Ryan Lochte and László Cseh in his weakest discipline, the breaststroke, before putting the hammer down in the freestyle to win his first gold of the Games. Story | Forde's take
Race 2 -- 4x100 freestyle relay
Breakdown: Phelps almost saw his run end, but Jason Lezak came back in the final leg to help the U.S. men edge France to win gold in one of the most memorable relay races in Olympic history. Story | Forde's take
Race 3 -- 200 free
Breakdown: Phelps easily won his third gold of the Beijing Games and ninth of his career to tie him with Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis, Larysa Latynina and Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi for the most in Olympic history. Story | Caple's take
Race 4 -- 200 butterfly
Breakdown: It wasn't even close, folks. Phelps controlled the race from the beginning to win, breaking his own world record and becoming the most decorated gold medalist in Olympic history. Story | Forde's take
Race 5 -- 4x200 free relay
Breakdown: Phelps chose to swim the first leg of the relay and immediately set the tone. By the time Peter Vanderkaay swam the anchor leg, the Americans held a five-body-length lead. Story | Forde's take
Race 6 -- 200 individual medley
Breakdown: Phelps dominated right from the start of the 200 IM and powered away to win in 1:54.23, another world record. Less than an hour later, Phelps won his 100 butterfly qualifier. Story | Forde's take
Race 7 -- 100 butterfly
Breakdown: Just when you thought it couldn't get any better ... Phelps beat Milorad Cavic by one-hundredth of a second to win the 100 fly and match Mark Spitz's record of seven golds in the same Games. Story | Forde's take
Race 8 -- 4x100 medley relay
Breakdown: The relay team of Aaron Peirsol (back), Brendan Hansen (breast), Phelps (fly) and Jason Lezak (free) won, helping Phelps pass Mark Spitz for an unprecedented eighth gold medal in the same Olympics. Story | Forde's take

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Phelps Is Phelps' performance more impressive than Steffi Graf's "Golden Slam," or Joltin' Joe's 56-game hitting streak? Does it rank better than Wayne Gretzky's 92-goal season or Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game? Rank 'em