This archived article was written by: Todd Palmer
After the Summer Olympics in Beijing, eight gold medals have immortalized Michael Phelps into sports lore. Phelps has now joined Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Pele as household names in the sports world because of his amazing performance over the last two weeks. But just how did he become a world famous swimmer?
We were all left asking ourselves this question after Phelps dominated the field winning gold medals in the following events: the 100 meter Butterfly, the 200 meter Butterfly, the 200 meter Freestyle, the 200 Individual Medley (swimming all four different strokes), the 400 meter Individual Medley and in three relays that he participated in with other American swimmers; the 4 X 100 meter Freestyle Relay, the 4 X 100 meter Medley Relay, and the 4 X 200 meter Freestyle Relay. These medals gave him the record for most lifetime golds.
It seems that Michael Phelps was born to be a swimmer. His physical characteristics give him a huge advantage in the swimming pool. His 6-foot-4-inch frame is an incredible advantage, and then you add in the fact that his wingspan is even three inches longer, giving him the edge of a longer reach. Along with his tall body came his huge size-14 feet, seemingly giving him built-in flippers. Phelps was also blessed with an upper body longer than his lower, giving him an unusual ability to just sit on top of the water. Another one of his God-given qualities is his double-jointed flexible ankles that provide for a very strong kick. These uncommon physical features alone give him the ability to be a very fast swimmer.
But just because of these natural advantages, it does not mean that Michael Phelps didn’t have to work hard to be a world class athlete in the swimming pool. Phelps spends two to five hours a day in the pool, but surprisingly he does not lift weights as much as one would think. He swims all four swimming strokes extremely fast, so most likely practices all of them on a daily basis.
Phelps also tries to eat as many calories as he can, to be exact he eats 12,000 calories a day. So with a rigorous training schedule in the pool, and an outrageous diet, Michael Phelps was able to prepare himself to be the winningest Olympian ever.
Phelps also has two sisters that inspired him to be the swimmer he is. He remembers at age 10 going to the Olympic trials to cheer on his older sister. When she only took sixth in her race, and did not qualify for the Olympics, the whole family broke into tears. From that day on Phelps decided he would work hard enough to be an Olympian swimmer. He made his first Olympics in 2000, and again qualified for the Athens Games in 2004, all this helped him prepare for his incredible run this summer in China.
So, through a combination of God-given gifts, a hard work ethic, and family influence, Michael Phelps was able to become the most popular athlete of this decade.