Michael Phelps’ goal number was 40 at the Rio Olympics

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Michael Phelps is known for keeping his goals private leading up to Olympics, but in the months since Rio he has shared glimpses into what he aspired to accomplish at his final Games.

On Sunday, Phelps gave perhaps his most specific account yet.

The 23-time Olympic champion wanted to end his career with 40 world records. And since Phelps already had 39, that meant breaking one more record in an individual event or relay.

Most of all, Phelps wanted to reclaim the world record in the 200m individual medley.

This should be no surprise. Phelps still owns the world records in his two other primary events — 100m and 200m butterfly — but Ryan Lochte took the 200m IM away in 2009. Phelps had held the record for the previous six years.

“I wanted to break the world record in the 200m IM, that was one thing I really wanted,” Phelps said Sunday when asked of his goals in his comeback since 2014. “I wanted 40 world records to retire, and we fell short.”

Phelps has said he achieved one of his goal times in Rio — swimming his fastest 100m free ever in his first splash at the Games in the 4x100m free relay final. Though the time doesn’t technically count for any record purposes, since it came on a relay start, Phelps still achieved what he set out to do in that event.

In his three individual events in Rio, Phelps was well off his personal-best times:

100m butterfly — 51.14 in Rio; 49.82 world record
200m butterfly — 1:53.36 in Rio; 1:51.51 world record
200m individual medley — 1:54.66 in Rio; 1:54.16 personal best (1:54.00 Lochte WR)

“But, at 31 [years old], being able to have two years of training, come back and do what I did, I can’t be hard on myself,” Phelps said.

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