We were just sent a great video by Jeff Cooper of a young Michael Phelps swimming a 50 butterfly. Not “16-years old, already an Olympian” young; more like “11-years old, just a NAG Record holder” Michael Phelps. The video (as you can see) is from February of 1997 at the Maryland All-Star Meet.

What’s great (and what Jeff showed in slow-mo) is that Phelps has had the same block routine, well, forever. I think that’s an important lesson for young swimmers to learn. While it’s important to be an athlete and to be flexible and adaptable, developing a pre-race routine is a good way to block out distractions and get focused.

We couldn’t find results for this meet anywhere, but by my hand-timing of the video, Phelps hit in about a 26.7 for the 50 yard race.

“We were at the meet, and my mom said ‘hey, let’s film the fast kid,” Cooper said of his rare footage. “She was a fan from early on!”

A few things have changed about Phelps’ stroke since then, but all of the basic components are clearly recognizable. Breathing nearly every stroke, the same wide entry that he’s always had; there’s no doubt that this is Phelps.

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