At the recent convention of the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA), Arizona State coach Bob Bowman delivered remarks focused on how he prepared Michael Phelps for the Olympics in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. Bowman shared images of the hand-written workouts he prepared for Phelps (and some of his other athletes, such as Allison Schmitt) – 7, 14, 30, and 60 days out from each Olympics. A number of those workouts can be seen below.
In the course of his remarks, and during the Q&A session, Bowman shared a number of interesting nuggets:
- Phelps’ best training was from 2002-04.
- While training at the University of Michigan, from 2004-08, he was averaging 80,000 yards per week.
- Going into the 2012 Olympics, Phelps only trained about 50% of the time and only came to two Saturday morning practices.
- While Phelps narrowly lost the 200 fly at the London Olympics, he was pleasantly surprised (as was Bowman) by how well he swam, given how little training he’d done over the previous four years.
- Following the London Olympics, his practices were never more than 6,000 yards.
- Bowman said of Phelps, “We were 100% honest with each other all the time. That’s how we stayed together.”
- Kicking is “incredibly important,” said Bowman, and should be done at full intensity. He 25 percent of his workouts will often be devoted to kicking, with long sets, like 2,000 yards for time.
- Butterfly training, said Bowman, should be done with proper technique at all times.
- A key part of success at meets is management – not the workouts. Thus he said his biggest job was to get his swimmers to do what they were trained to do amid the chaos connected to meets – travel, meals, equipment, etc.
- “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.”
- He emphasized that a great facility is not needed to produce great swimmers, pointing to the crowded pool Phelps trained in at NBAC and the subpar weight room, which was actually outside (propane space heaters kept the swimmers warm during cold weather periods).
Jared Anderson contributed to this report.