Michael Phelps By the Numbers

Michael Butler
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The Physiology of the Greatest Swimmer of All Time

In 2004, the Olympics took place in Athens, Greece. There were many great athletes, including Michael Phelps, who was competing in six categories, including butterfly and freestyle. He’d already won several gold medals, but at the age of 18, he was just a child compared to the other swimmers.

However, after each race, the difference between him and his competitors was incredible. He had broken 5 World Records in Athens, and won a total of 8 gold medals, 6 silver, and 2 bronze.

In the 2012 London Olympics, he broke a total of 7 Olympic records, including the most gold medals won by any athlete, with eight gold medals and one silver medal!

How is it possible for someone who started competing seriously in the water and swimming as his primary sport much later in life to win a total of 19 gold medals in 4 Olympics? For Michael Phelps, this is simply due to his physiology.

His physiology is amazing to say the least. In his early years, he was diagnosed with ADHD and normally, people with ADHD can’t focus for long periods of time. But his incredible physiology actually improved with ADHD medications. His body could overcome his mind and focus on what he needed to do to succeed with swimming.

With this physiology, Michael Phelps is able to break records that may never be broken for years, if ever again.

Other Phelps Stats:

75% of Usain Bolt’s body is made up of fast twitch muscle fibers.

The size of a Burmese python’s eggs is large enough to fit 25 jumbo sized eggs in one!

Timor-Leste is the world’s newest nation, gaining independence from East Timor in 2002.

Colorado’s Independence Pass is the highest paved, continuous, and non-motorized route in the country.

An American woman can get pregnant 365 days a year.

Leatherback turtles can dive more than 4,000 feet below the surface.

Dragonflies can fly at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.

A sperm whale’s brain weighs as much as a large melon.

The “galloping camels” picture on the Egyptian one-pound note looks more like two giraffes galloping side by side.

Stewie from “Family Guy” bears a striking resemblance to the real-life Seth MacFarlane.

March 19th was the anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh’s death in 1890.

Michael Phelps’ World Records

Michael Phelps is a retired American swimmer, and many consider him to be one of the greatest athletes of all time. Since his Olympic debut in 2000, Phelps has won medals in all but one of the major international competitions, including the Olympics, World Championships, and Pan Pacific Championships. He states that he will “continue to train with hopes of competing at the 2012 Olympics in London.”

Phelps has also written a book on his training techniques for children, which is an excellent resource for parents who want to help their children learn to swim.

As of 2011, at the age of 27, Michael Phelps has:

  • 23 Olympic medals with 18 of them gold
  • 21 World Championships medals with 18 of them gold
  • 6 Pan-Pacific Championship medals with 5 of them gold

As of 2009, he held the world record for the following events:

  • 100 m butterfly
  • 200 m butterfly
  • 200m freestyle
  • 200m individual medley

As of 2010, he held the world record for the following events:

  • 200 m freestyle
  • 100 m butterfly
  • 200 m individual medley
  • 100 m freestyle
  • 200 m individual medley
  • Have you ever swam the butterfly stroke? Can you beat Michael Phelps’ record?

2001 – Phelps’ First World Record

2003 –The First Avalanche of Records

Michael Phelps was only 15 years old and competing in just his sixth global meet when he electrified the swimming world by smashing all four of the longest U.S. swimming records. His times were so fast his performances seemed otherworldly.

While Phelps languished around in last place swimming the butterfly leg of the 400-meter medley relay at the U.S. National Championships, the expectations around him began to swell. He was originally named to his first international team at the LEN European Championships, but U.S. head coach Richard Quick dropped Phelps from the team just days before the meet started.

Quick was troubled by Phelps’s lack of technical efficiency and his rough start in butterfly. Rather than watch his star recruit swim in Europe and struggle, Quick decided to withdraw him from the meet and choose Matt Scherer, above, as the team’s butterflyer.

In his second year as head coach of an age group team in the NCSA, Coach Bob Bowman, right below, thought that the snub was bad news for the young prospect, and Coach Quick went to bat for Phelps.

2008 – The Golden 8

Even if you aren’t familiar with Michael Phelps, chances are you are familiar with his Olympic records. From Beijing to London, most of his time is now referred to as the “golden 8”. It’s a reference to his 8 gold medals in 8 events.

So how did he achieve so much in a relatively short period of time? Consistency.

Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time because he was able to win so many races and set so many records in his prime while maintaining a balance between work, family, swim training, and the rest of his life.

Training alone is not enough to make you a world-class athlete … you have to be willing to sacrifice some of the things that most people take for granted and you also have to put a lot of hard work into it. He trained at least 5 hours every day. If you have time for 5 hours of sleep, you have time for 5 hours of training.

He worked on his nutrition to keep his body strong. By eating the right foods, he was able to maintain a competitive edge among all other swimmers around the world. He focused on specific parts of his body, making sure that they took some of the brunt impact in each stroke cycle to minimize injury risk.

World Records That Phelps Still Holds

To date, Michael Phelps holds the most Olympic medals anyone has ever won at the Summer Olympics: 22 gold, 2 silver, and 2 bronze.

At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Phelps set a world record in the 200-meter butterfly race and won a total of 8 gold medals. It wasn’t until that year that the International Olympic Committee changed its rules, prohibiting a single athlete from participating in finals for more than 2 individual events. Though this rule change was intended to prevent athletes from betting against their own teammates, it has hurt Phelps the most.

However, before Phelps, this rule affected a number of swimmers and divers. The current record for the number of medals won in a single Olympics is held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won 18 medals at the Summer Olympics in 1960, 1964, and 1968.

The Comeback

Michael Phelps is a swimmer who has won more Olympic gold medals than any other Olympian. Even before he was training as a world-class athlete, Michael had a passion for the water. As a child, he took swim lessons, but he didn’t enjoy them.

He kept at it, however, and at a very early age he became very good at competitive swimming. He won two gold medals and two bronze medals in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, when he was only 15 years old. The following year, he set five different world records.

But at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Michael had a tough time. He won only three gold and two silver medals. He placed out of the medal competition in the 100-meter freestyle and came in thirty-fifth in the two-hundred-meter individual medley. He also tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and he was suspended from competition for six months and for two years from the U.S. team.

But in 2008, he won six gold and two bronze medals in Beijing. Four years later, at the 2012 Olympics in London, he won a total of six gold medals and two silver medals, becoming the most successful Olympian of all time.

The Legacy

Few athletes in any sport are known by just one name. Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Serena Williams … the list goes on and on.

That tells you something about the nature of sporting superstardom. It’s about being at the top of a field for an extended period of time and leaving a lasting impression on your sport. It’s risky, too. People expect a lot of you and you get held to an impossibly high standard.

In other words, it’s pretty impossible to succeed and sustain success. And for someone like Michael Phelps, who became a larger-than-life figure by becoming the face of his sport for a decade and winning 16 Olympic gold medals to boot, it was a road paved with enough pressure to bring down an entire city.

But that didn’t stop Michael Phelps and he is now considered as the greatest Olympian of all time by many.

How does this compilation of his career achievements repeat itself in other areas of Michael Phelps’ life?

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