It is safe to say that almost everybody who follows the news nowadays has heard of the name Michael Phelps. Upon coming to worldwide attention at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Phelps has taken the sport of swimming to new limits, setting records that seemed impossible just years before. He shocked the world with his record-breaking win of eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and also holds the record for most Olympic gold medals ever won. However, getting to that point was not easy, and required a high amount of diligence, an excellent work ethic, and an extensive support system. Phelps’ awe-striking performance in the pool has certainly earned him a place among the sporting world’s elite, and he will definitely be remembered as one of the most successful swimmers of all time.
Now how does Phelps do so well in the water? Some people explain that it is the result of having inherited a few crucial anatomical features that give Phelps a genetic advantage. Although he stands at 6 feet 4 inches, his arm span is much longer, at 6 feet 7 inches. He can therefore reach further in the water, which allows him to cover more ground than swimmers with a shorter arm span. He has larger feet and hands than an average man his size, which act almost like paddles, allowing him to effectively push himself through the water. His long torso, relative to his shorter legs, causes less drag and resistance while swimming. However, physiological benefits can only bring a swimmer so far; it is more so Phelps’ inherent motivation and hard work that has determined his success.
Much of Phelps’ accomplishments can then be attributed to the tutelage of his long-time coach, Bob Bowman. They first met at the North Baltimore Aquatic Centre when Phelps was 11 years old, and Bowman instantly recognized the potential in the young boy. Phelps quickly started breaking national records in his age group, which eventually culminated in his qualification at the 2000 Olympic Games...
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