Michael Fred Phelps was born on June 30, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland, to Fred and Debbie Phelps. The youngest of three children, Michael Phelps and his sisters grew up in the neighborhood of Rodgers Forge. His father, Fred, an all-around athlete, was a state trooper; mother Debbie was a middle-school principal. When Phelps's parents divorced in 1994, he and his siblings went to live with their mother, with whom Michael grew very close. Phelps began swimming when his two older sisters, Whitney (born in 1978) and Hilary (born in 1980), joined a local swim team. Whitney tried out for the U.S. Olympic team in 1996, at the age of 15, but injuries derailed her career. At age 7, Phelps was still "a little scared" to put his head under water, so his instructors allowed him to float around on his back. Not surprisingly, the first stroke he mastered was the backstroke. After he saw swimmers Tom Malchow and Tom Dolan compete at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Phelps began to dream of becoming a champion. He launched his swimming career at the Loyola High School pool. He met his coach, Bob Bowman, when he started training at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club at the Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center. The coach immediately recognized Phelps's talents and fierce sense of competition and began an intense training regime together. By 1999, Phelps had made the U.S. National B Team. At the age of 15, Phelps became the youngest American male swimmer at an Olympic Games in 68 years. While he didn't win a medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, he would soon become a major force in competitive swimming.
In the spring of 2001, Phelps set the world record in the 200-meter butterfly, becoming the youngest male swimmer in history (at 15 years and 9 months) to ever set a world swimming record. He then broke his own record at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, with a time of 1:54:58, earning his first international medal. Phelps continued to set new...
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