Named swimmer of the year four times, he is recognized as one of the most popular Australian athletes of all time and won 2 Olympic gold medals.
He didn't swim until unusually late for a professional swimmer because of an allergy to chlorine.
After a brief hiatus from swimming, it was announced that he would be competing for Australia in the 2012 London Olympic games.
His father Ken was a former pro cricket player and his mother Margaret was a school teacher.
While Michael Phelps is a celebrity swimmer in the US, in Australia Thorpe is a legend in his own right.