Michael Phelps Biography
So, a couple weeks ago I had to write a biography on a person of our choice in writing class for our journalism unit. I’m sure you could guess, since I am a competitive swimmer, of course I picked Michael Phelps! I hope you enjoy.
“I always thought, it would be neat to make the Olympic Team.”
He didn’t know that he would become the most medaled Olympian of all time. He didn’t know that he would go to four Olympic Games and earn 22 medals. He didn’t know that he would meet his coach, Bob Bowman and train with him for over 10 years. He didn’t know that he would be arrested for drinking and driving. What he did know, was that he loved to swim.
Michael Phelps was born Michael Fred Phelps II on June 30, 1985, in Towson, Maryland. He was born to parents Michael Fred Phelps and Deborah Phelps and had 2 older sisters, Whitney and Hilary Phelps. He started swimming at age 7 and the first stroke he learned was the backstroke. Initially, he was afraid to put his head underwater, so it is not surprising that the first stroke he mastered was the backstroke.
Phelps is a hardworking, determined man that does not give up, and he has proved that many times. Michael Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 12. After a year of taking pills, Michael decided he was using the pills as an excuse and thought that if he focused on controlling his mind and behavior, he could stop taking the pills. With the support of his doctors and mother, he eventually was able to stop taking the medications and live a life without medicine controlling it.
In 2000 Michael Phelps went to his first Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He was only 15, the youngest Olympian in 68 years and the youngest member of the US Team that year. He came in second at the Olympic Trials in the 200 Butterfly, earning him a spot on the team. At the Olympics however, he did not earn any medals, placing 5th in the 200 Butterfly. The 200 Butterfly was the only event he swam at the Sydney Olympics, but he was still inspired to compete at further competitions, such as the 2004 Athens Olympics and The Pan Pacific Championships.
“If you want to be the best, you have to do what other people aren’t willing to do.” -Michael Phelps
Let’s go forward to 2004. Four years have passed since the 2000 Olympics. In the 2004 Olympics in Athens Greece, Michael Phelps earned 6 gold and 2 bronze medals, performing much better than his 2000 Olympics in Sydney. His gold medal count tied the Soviet Gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin for the most medals ever in a single Olympic Games. He also broke his own record in the 400 IM, swimming 0.15 seconds faster than his record and qualifying time, which earned him a gold medal. His other gold medal events included the 100 and 200 meter Butterfly, the 200 Individual Medley, the 4×200 Freestyle Relay and the 4×100 Medley Relay.
“The more you dream, the more you achieve.” – Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps went to his third Olympics in 2008, in Beijing, China. He won eight gold medals in five individual events, and three relay events. He set seven world records and one Olympic record. He broke the record for the most gold medals ever won in a single Olympic Games, held by Mark Spitz with seven golds in 1972. After that Olympics, Phelps had earned 14 Olympic gold medals and 2 Olympic bronze medals, with a total of 16 Olympic medals.
Now imagine this: It’s the 2008 Olympics and Michael Phelps has already won 6 gold medals, with 2 events to go. His next event is the 100 meter Butterfly. Before the final, one of his fellow competitors, US born Serbian swimmer Milorad Čavić stated that “It would be good for him if he loses. It would be nice if historians talk about Michael Phelps winning seven gold medals and losing the eighth to ‘some guy.’ I’d like to be that guy.” Michael Phelps responded by saying, “When people say things like that, it fires me up more than anything.”
Michael Phelps ended up beating Čavić by 0.01 of a second with a time of 50.58 and winning his seventh Olympic gold medal in 2008. The 0.01 second finish caused the Serbian delegation to file a protest. Further analysis by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) using a video with frames shot 1/10,000 of a second apart was used to confirm Phelps’s victory.
Phelps went to his most recent Olympic Games in London, England in 2012. He was determined to win more Olympic medals and break the record of the most Olympic medals ever, held by Larisa Latynina, a Soviet gymnast who won 18 Olympic medals in the 1950’s and 60’s. At the 2012 Olympics, Phelps won a total of 4 gold medals and 2 silver medals. He broke the previous, 48 year old record by 4 medals and currently has a total of 22 Olympic Medals. After the 2012 Olympic Games, Phelps announced his retirement.
“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” -Michael Phelps
Yet, in April 2014, less than two years after the 2012 Olympic Games, Michael Phelps announced his return. He hadn’t been training consistently for almost two years, so he knew that it would take a lot of effort to get himself back in shape. But, he was determined to continue competing. His first meet was the 2014 Mesa Grand Prix in Arizona. In 2016, at 31 years old, he is planning to swim in the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, 16 years after his first Olympic Games. Yet, if he wins a single Olympic Medal, not only will he break his own record, he will continue doing what he loves the most, swimming.
“Swimming is normal for me. I’m relaxed. I’m comfortable, and I know my surroundings. It’s my home.” -Michael Phelps
Did you like it? I hope you did! Tell me in the comments below.