Michael Phelps is truly a phenomenal athlete, which is no secret. But here are some interesting facts about him:
- He did not take one day off for six years of training. Even other elite swimmers will take Sunday off, but he did no such thing. His dedication to the sport was immense.
- For the 2008 Olympics, his typical week of training consisted of 80000 meters. A day for him would be 2 hours of morning swimming, napping, a 1–2 hour session in the gym, napping, and finally a 3 hour swim practice in the evening.
- As he mentioned in one of his Facebook live videos, he was so focused on his goal of 8 gold medals in Beijing, he was quiet and kept to himself, often shutting others out. This happened to such an extent that he rubbed Ronda Rousey, a famous Judo star, the wrong way: Olympian and fighter Ronda Rousey calls out Michael Phelps’ behavior in Beijing
- He was so fast when he was young that he broke a 15–16 age group record when he was only 14. He is also the youngest male swimmer to break a world record at 15 years of age. Anyone who is a swimmer knows how insane this is.
- One of his hardest workouts was a 10000 meters for time. 2.5 hours of him swimming as fast as he could. Unbelievable.
- His coach, Bob Bowman, hates long tapers, so will only tone down yardage 1–2 weeks out from a major competition.
- To improve his lung capacity and endurance, he has a chamber surrounding his bed that simulates high altitude/elevation. That way, breathing less oxygen becomes natural for him, and the moments of oxygen debt in his races (last underwater) don’t hurt him as much.
- He is extremely close to Bob Bowman. His coach was like a father to him in many ways, teaching him how to drive and discussing personal issues with him.
- His idol is not a swimming star, but a basketball star: Michael Jordan. He is also very close to Ray Lewis, a Baltimore Ravens football star.
- He also faced off against Shaquille O’Neal in a friendly swimming competition in which Shaq had some handicaps and other Olympians to assist him! You can watch the first part here: Shaquille O’Neal vs Michael Phelps.
- Lil Wayne dedicated a song to him called “No Quitter Go Getter”, a tribute to his insane performance at Beijing (he begins it with, “Michael Phelps, this one’s for you”). You can listen to it here: No quitter Go getter.
- He also guest starred in the popular comedy drama, Suits. I couldn’t find the scene, but it’s in Season 3!
The only reason Phelps is one of the most dominant athletes in history is because of how much he sacrificed. Of course, he had immense and an innate talent for swimming, but he combined it with an insane work ethic to get to where he is today. Everyone who is a swimmer knows that swimming is one of the most, if not the most, demanding sport out there. Phelps took it to another level, and he might have the money, fame, and Olympic status now, but he sacrificed everything: his time, energy, social life, and well-being to get there.