In 2004, he overcame a suspected case of food poisoning to win five events in a tuneup for the Athens Olympics, then returned after the Summer Games for the world championships. He won one title before withdrawing because of a back injury.
Phelps won six more events at Indy's Counsilman Classic in 2005 and five more U.S. national titles in Indy in 2006, and the list goes on.
If Phelps can beat rival Ryan Lochte in Saturday's 200 IM, he will have yet another passage to add to his journal of favorite swimming memories.
But there's one image that will never go away.
"I remember when his name was painted on that wall and the little guy on that that motorized stand went up and painted it," Debbie Phelps said. "I'll never forget it.'