- Began swimming at age 5.
- Was allergic to chlorine as a child.
- At age 14, became the youngest swimmer to represent Australia in swimming.
- Named Australian Swimmer of the Year from 1999 to 2003.
- With three gold and two silver medals, was the most successful athlete at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia; won an additional four medals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
- Won 11 World Championship gold medals in his career.
- Founded the Ian Thorpe Fountain for Youth, which works to better the lives and education of Indigenous Australian youths in remote communities, in 2000.
- Was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2001.
- Retired from swimming in 2006; came out of retirement in 2011 to try to make the Australian squad for the 2012 Olympics in London, but failed to qualify.
- Published his autobiography, This Is Me, in 2012.
- In 2012, won the Australian Human Rights Medal for his charity work with Indigenous children.