Michael Andrew Turns Pro, Youngest Male in U.S. Swimming History

  264 Braden Keith | June 11th, 2013 | Featured, Industry, International, National, News

Late Sunday evening, fourteen year old swimming phenom, Michael Andrew, signed his first endorsement deal, officially making him the youngest swimmer in United States history to turn professional.

Andrew hasn’t been fourteen long. His birthday was April 18th, and just last weekend in Iowa City he became the fastest 13-14 year old in the 50 long course meter freestyle in American history with a 23.47. That’s the 11th National Age Group (NAG) Record he holds, and he’s broken 32 NAG Records since he started making waves in the pool.

Andrew’s 50 free time ranks him 59th in the nation among all elite males. A few female swimmers, similar in age, rank higher, but women have historically developed faster than men in the sport of swimming. It’s highly unusual for boys to crack the top 60 in the country at 14 years old. The next-closest ranked 14-year-old boy is #167.

The young swimmer might be one of the best 14-year old athletes in the history of the sport, but he’s also been one of the most discussed. His product endorsement, the youngest ever signed by an American swimmer, will only serve to further increase the buzz, mystique, and hype surrounding the talented young swimmer.  With only one exception among the male ranks, Michael Phelps, the path to elite swimming in the United States has traditionally taken swimmers through the collegiate ranks. With this decision, Andrew will now be ineligible to swim either in high school or NCAA collegiate competition.

Andrew has signed with P2 Life, a high-performance nutrition supplement manufacturer. Terms of the agreement are confidential.

The Deal

Pic_of_Michael_Signing_1st_Contract

Michael Andrew while signing his first ever endorsement deal, which officially makes him a professional athlete.

P2 Life, a high-performance nutrition supplement manufacturer, has signed 14-year old swimmer Michael Andrew to a historic endorsement deal. P2 Life adds this endorsement to one already existing with United States Masters’ Swimming (USMS) at the opposite end of the age spectrum.

“We looked around at the NCAA, and we decided that this is a road that we want to go down together,” his coach and father Peter Andrew said on Sunday when we spoke via phone (as the pair were on their way to go fishing). “And as far as high school, we’re home schooled so there’s really nothing to miss out on there.”

“We don’t really think it puts pressure on Michael, it’s still just swimming,” Peter said, as Michael chimed in the background with a “I like pressure.”

“I mean he wants to swim in the Olympics and he has goals, but it really doesn’t change anything for us except you get some free stuff,” Peter continued.

Andrew has been the source of much intrigue over the last four years, where he’s had 32 national record breaking swims.

Tina Andrew, Michael’s mother who for now is acting as his agent, says that they only will work with companies that they believe in, and after they joined the Grand Prix Series they started receiving warnings about the risks of supplements, and P2Life was certified to be safe. In other words, they used P2Life before the endorsement was even a possibility.

With this decision, Andrew will now be ineligible to swim either in high school or NCAA collegiate competition.

The Precedent

Swimmers and other Olympic athletes turning pro in high school isn’t totally unheard of. Michael Phelps signed his first endorsement deal on October 4th, 2001 with Speedo, which was a few months after his 16th birthday. Gymnastics all-around individual Olympic champion Gabby Douglas, is believed to have endorsement deals well into the millions at 16-years old as well.

The difference is that when Phelps went pro, he was already an Olympian and a World Record holder, and Douglas was the best gymnast in the world. Andrew is maybe the best age group swimmer we’ve seen since Mary T. Meagher, but when compared to the rest of the professional ranks, he’s still got a long climb to go.

“My wife and I, before I settled, we spent 8 years travelling, and I think there’s a lot of great travelling opportunities around the world, and I’d love to see Michael have that chance,” Peter said. “There’s a lot of great meets in Europe, and we’d love to go race in Japan, and I think my wife and I learned more from travelling than from anything else we did.”

In this country, however, most professional athletes have to wait until they’re at least 18 to cash in on their talents, especially with age restrictions in place in leagues like the NBA and the NFL. Swimming has no such restrictions, and as an individual sport the market for going pro relies almost strictly on whether or not a sponsor is willing to pay.

This is even further true given where his parents come from; in most of the world outside of the United States, there is no reason to preserve amateur status for the sake of college scholarships. As soon as you make the Junior National Team and your training gets subsidized, or someone offers you something in exchange for your swimming, you’re a professional.

Here’s a list of young athletes who have gone pro at similar ages, and most (with the exception of Meilutyte) without much in the way of Olympic glory.

  • Ruta Meilutyte, 2012 Olympic Champion in the women’s 100 breaststroke, signed an endorsement with Arena earlier this year at 15.
  • Freddy Adu, an American soccer player, signed his first professional contract with MLS at 14 years old in 2003.
  • Andrea Jaeger, an American tennis player, turned pro in 1980 at 14 years old.
  • Michelle Wie, an American golfer who turned pro at 15 years old in 2005.
  • 12-year old Mauricio Baldivieso played his first professional soccer match in Bolivia at 12 years old in 2009.
  • 13-year old Peruvian Fernando Garcia played his first professional soccer match in 2001 at 13 years old.
  • Ricky Rubio, a Spanish basketball player, competed in Spain’s ACB professional basketball league at 14 years old in 2005.
  • Ryan Sheckler became a professional skateboarder in 2013 after winning gold at the 2003 X Games
  • Joe Nuchall is the youngest player to ever play in a Major League Baseball game, pitching two-thirds of an inning for the Reds in 1944 when he was only 15.

The Training

The potential is there for Andrew. According to his mother, Tina Andrew, he currently stands 6’4″ and weighs 178 pounds. His father is a former high-level swimmer and Navy diver from South Africa, and stands 6’6″ or so himself; his mother, Tina, is a gifted athlete, and actually used to be a gladiator on British Gladiators once upon a time (the equivalent of American Gladiators in the U.S.) Michael is taller than your average 14-year old, but it wouldn’t seem that he’s done growing either.

Michael Andrew, 14 year old swimming phenom

Michael Andrew, 14 year old swimming phenom

Andrew trains with his younger sister, Michaela, in a two-lane indoor pool their father built-in the back yard. The focus is on the outside-the-box training principles of Dr. Brent Rushall, which preaches basically exclusive race-pace training (to oversimplify it). Michaela (who lately has cooled on the swimming and focused more on other sports) and Michael are joined frequently by visiting swimmers who want to learn more about their unique training methodologies, as well as a pair of local high school swimmers (one, who is a high school quarterback going to Stanford who is thinking about walking on to the swim team.)

“Michael has massive, massive abilities, but he’s gotta be enjoying it, or else we’re not going to do it anymore,” Peter said. “Sometimes with Michael, I find myself getting frustrated because he’s not making a time that I want him to be making, like any coach would, and I have to catch myself, because my relationship with him as a son is what’s most important.”

The concept is based on Dr. Rushall’s concepts of training how you’ll race, with a lot of high intensity training. As Michael himself explained it, “when you do too much yardage, it trains that 2a muscle, but we’re really working on that 2b fast twitch muscle. When you race a lot in practice, you make those neurological connections, and your body just knows what to do.”

A typical day will see about two hours of training, broken into three 40 minute sessions.

The initial reaction to this training is “Todd Marinovich,” the infamous child-prodigy experiment from the ranks of the NFL. As a young athlete, Marinovich underwent intense focus on his training to become a pro athlete under the guidance of his father Marv Marinovich, who once asked “How well could a kid develop if you provided him with the perfect environment?”

The Andrew family has certainly gone out of their way to give Michael great training opportunities, but his training feels simultaneously similar and different than that of the young Marinovich. It’s the same sort of very scientific, very technical training, and from a very young age having more attention and more very specific detail than most kids are used to. Michael spends no more time training than your average top-tier USA Swimming club swimmer. This past fall, he actually played on a local football team (he was the kicker, and was perfect on extra points for the season.)

Another similar example is baseball phenom Bryce Harper, who earned his GED two years early so that he could play pro baseball two years earlier. He’s had one of the brighter beginnings to a pro baseball career as we’ve seen in the last decade.

The next evolution of the training is working on Andrew’s pacing. Specifically, in their first few USA Swimming Grand Prix Series experiences, was that Michael got caught up trying to go out with the big name swimmers. “He’d go out too fast, try and follow Ryan Lochte and those guys, and there’s no way he’ll be able to hang on coming home with them,” Peter said. “I think he’s really getting the pacing, and that’s going to be big for his 100’s.

“My goal is to be no more than two seconds apart on the two halves of my 100,” Michael explained of his race strategy, noting that in his last meet he overshot that a bit, going 27-27 en route to a 54.

“That shows that he’s at least getting the idea, though the outcome wasn’t what we wanted,” Peter chimed in.

As Michael stepped out of the car to start the day’s fishing, Dad and coach Peter, playing a dual role, suddenly got a bit less technical. “Ya know, to be able to spend so much time with my son, and have success, and hopefully get to travel the world with him…that’s the greatest thing I could ever ask for.”

The Records

Below is a complete list of all of Michael Andrew’s National Age Group Record breaking swims.

Those times listed with an asterisk (*) now belong to someone else.
Those times listed in bold are Andrew’s records as they stand now.

(Note that this only includes swims recognized by USA Swimming. He broke the record in the 50 free for 11-12’s at least one other time, but the meet failed to file the proper sanction paperwork)

10 & under

  • 50 yard free, 24.60, January 16th, 2010 – Lawrence, Kansas
  • 50 yard breast, 31.78, February 6th, 2010 – Brown Deer, Wisconsin*
  • 100 yard IM, 1:01.31, February 6th, 2010 – Brown Deer, Wisconsin
  • 50 yard back, 28.58, February 7th, 2010 – Brown Deer, Wisconsin*
  • 50 yard free, 24.47, February 7th, 2010 – Brown Deer, Wisconsin
  • 50 yard fly, 26.59, February 13th, 2010 – Rochester, Minnesota*
  • 100 yard back, 1:00.86, February 20th, 2010 – Pierre, South Dakota*
  • 100 yard free, 54.10, February 21st, 2010 – Pierre, South Dakota
  • 100 yard breast, 1:08.53, March 5th, 2010 – Aberdeen, South Dakota*
  • 50 yard free, 24.46, March 27th, 2010 – St. Paul, Minnesota
  • 50 long course meter backstroke, 32.85, April 2nd, 2010 – Cedar Valley, Utah*
  • 50 long course meter backstroke, 32.72, April 10th, 2010 – Cerritos, California*

11-12

  • 50 yard free, 22.08, November 18th, 2011 – Columbia, Missouri
  • 50 yard free, 21.85, December 3rd, 2011 – Fishers, Indiana
  • 50 yard breaststroke, 28.09, December 3rd, 2011 – Fishers, Indiana
  • 50 yard butterfly, 24.05, December 3rd, 2011 – Fishers, Indiana
  • 100 yard IM, 54.66, December 11th, 2011 – College Park, Maryland
  • 200 yard breaststroke, 2:13.33, January 7th, 2012 – Independence, Missouri*
  • 50 long course meter freestyle, 25.50, February 12th, 2012 – Raleigh, NC
  • 50 long course meter butterfly, 27.26, February 12th, 2012 – Raleigh, NC
  • 50 long course meter freestyle, 25.15, March 3rd, 2012 – Jenks, Oklahoma
  • 50 long course meter freestyle, 25.09, March 25th, 2012 – Ft. Collins, Colorado
  • 50 long course meter butterfly, 26.22, March 25th, 2012, Ft. Collins, Colorado
  • 100 yard breaststroke, 1:00.19, February 26th, 2012 – St. John, Indiana*
  • 100 yard free, 47.95, March 9th, 2012 – Topeka, Kansas
  • 50 yard breaststroke, 27.46, March 10th, 2012 – Topeka, Kansas
  • 50 yard butterfly, 23.70 March 11th, 2012 – Topeka, Kansas
  • 50 yard butterfly, 23.65 March 11th, 2012 – Topeka, Kansas
  • 100 yard breaststroke, 1:00.07, April 13th, 2012 – Clearwater, Florida*
  • 100 yard IM, 54.14, April 13th, 2012 – Clearwater, Florida
  • 100 yard IM, 53.86, April 13th, 2012 – Clearwater, Florida

13-14

  • 50 long course meter freestyle, 23.47, June 1st, 2013 – Iowa City, Iowa (pending recognition)

Video of Michael Andrew’s 23.47 50 meter freestyle NAG record:

In This Story

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264 Comments on "Michael Andrew Turns Pro, Youngest Male in U.S. Swimming History"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
bobo gigi
3 years 3 months ago

I’m the first to comment this article but I believe I’m not the last.
Good luck to him!

Jack Rund
3 years 3 months ago

The dude is a savage, but first and foremost he is a gentleman.

Paella747
3 years 3 months ago

Yeah…. I bet there’s going to be a lot here soon.
This one will be an interesting one to follow…..

bobo gigi
3 years 3 months ago

A probable record of comments on swimswam is expected!

Bourdais
3 years 3 months ago

Doubt it. Some of the Olympics pages had hundreds and hundreds of comments. I think this one had the most, over 400.

http://swimswam.com/american-vollmer-van-der-burgh-break-world-records-on-day-2-recap-french/

bobo gigi
3 years 3 months ago

Yes, but I talked more about standard articles and not about a meet live coverage.

WHOKNOWS
3 years 3 months ago

How can a 14 year old sign a contract? There must be some legal safeguards here.

iLikePsych
3 years 3 months ago

I believe said safeguards are known as ‘legal guardians’.

aswimfan
3 years 3 months ago

I’ve just realized that Michael Andrew only specializes in the sprints.

SprintDude9000
3 years 3 months ago

3:58 in the 400yd IM aged 13.

pvk
3 years 3 months ago

And a 1:50. 200 im at 13!

bobo gigi
3 years 3 months ago

In SCY! Long course is very different.

SprintDude9000
3 years 3 months ago

So, according to folks, 400yd IM is a sprint because it’s raced in a 25yd pool? Does that mean a 1650yd free is also a sprint since it’s also raced in a 25yd pool? Come on!

aswimfan
3 years 3 months ago

My comment about him specializing in sprints was based on the fact that he broke or hods records in 50/100 only.

Until he breaks records in 200 and over, I am still convinced he is a sprinter.

Michael "theshark" Katz
1 year 8 months ago

Stop this Malarkey

Christian Anton
3 years 3 months ago

Exactly, only sprints

3 years 3 months ago

What’s wrong with that? Most teams continue with their “garbage yardage” programs. Most aspiring young swimmers act as “economic fodder” for top swimmers and coaches on their programs. I doubt that most coaches have opened a book on physics or physiology for 10 or 15 years OR ever. Michaels training is solidly based on both. Michael is a natural talent, that is reaching the top through thoughtful coaching, intelligent parenting, and efficient training. I wonder how many teams and their parents can say that.

PsychoDad
3 years 3 months ago

Congratulation to Michael and family. They deserve the help. The bond you develop with your kids practicing and traveling together is indeed priceless.

Swimmer
2 years 2 months ago

He’s just a big guy,he’s gonna slow down once he stops growing in 1-2 years

JUST A SWIMCOACH
3 years 3 months ago

Please provide a list of athletes that have been developed using the “Dr. Rushall technique”.

High intensity training is certainly not a new concept but are there elements exclusive to this Brent Rushall method?

Didn’t he write for Swimming World at one time?

Have any of these Rushall method athletes made it to the world stage?

Did they swim until the age of 26 (the average US Olympian age)?

What new and innovative things is his coach/father doing other than producing a 6ft 4in 13 yr old?

Are there other swimmers who are not behemoth sized early teens who have gone the distance directly or indirectly under the guidance of this “coach”?

I do wish them the best though abnormally large “age group phenoms” are certainly not a new concept and history is not on their side.

DR EVIL
3 years 3 months ago

Their method of “high intensity training” is much different than anything you know about.

It’s a “Moneyball” concept….so your traditional line of questions were quite predictable!

DR. EVIL HAS SPOKEN!

SWEswimmer
3 years 3 months ago

The funny thing is we have equally good 14 year olds in sweden! The only difference is we swim only in LCM and SCM whitch benefits us. No mather the age he is still as far away from Rio as a 20 year old doing the same times.

Jg
3 years 3 months ago

All Kieren’s public comments are on not overlooking yougsters because they have little speed. He himself was regularly beaten by girls until he was 15.

He has also spoken out against the over scientification of the sport.

JUST A SWIMCOACH
3 years 3 months ago

Hmm. Was that an answer to my questions? Are you suggesting that these methods are too unpredictable to be understood? “Moneyball concepts” were based on actual evidence in the form of stats and outcomes that could predict trends. So again I ask, can you give some examples and results based on something else other than a one off abnormally large age grouper trained with exceptional private resources?
DR. EVIL HAS EXPELLED ONLY Co2 AND MEANINGLESS DRIVEL

SprintDude9000
3 years 3 months ago

I believe Kieran Perkins did something remarkably similar to train for the 1500m in the early 90s (ie. loads of short-distance, 1500m race speed repeats (for example 30 x 100 free @ 1500m race pace on 1.30 etc…)).

DR EVIL
3 years 3 months ago

Nope..not even close….SprintDude9000

Like I said earlier: “Their method of “high intensity training” is much different than anything you know about.”

DR. EVIL HAS SPOKEN!!

Scott spranklin
3 years 3 months ago

Dr Evil.. With regards to SD9000 example re Perkins training he is actually spot on! But im not across their high intensity training you speak of to comment.. Sad this kid will miss out once college experience

Swimmerwholovesswimming
1 year 5 months ago

I do that 30x100m free @1500m pace set all the time!!!
Just felt like saying that

3 years 3 months ago

Questions pertaining to USRPT (Ultra Short Race Pace Training) may be directed at info@swimmingscience.net with the subject line “Cam USRP Group”. The discussion panel continues to grow every week.

Many coaches incorporate some form of “high intensity”/”race simulation” sets in their training structure. However, high intensity sets are not sufficient to qualify a swimmer as training in a USRPT structure.

USRPT is a set of principles for MAXimizing the volume of race pace training that can be performed. Many coaches are not willing to maximize this volume because they believe that other things can be more important than maximizing speed in particular events.

Extremely competition specific training is not new to the sporting world, as it has been adopted by athletes in other cyclic and total body sports like rowing and cross country skiing at the Olympic level. Athletes in other countries (not USA) are adopting it to greater and greater extents, and it is only a matter of time before the US Swim community realizes that catching up matters.

If the concept of USRPT training is wholly new to you, I recommend checking out the 2 and 8 page bulletins 40a and 40b at the following url http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullets/table.htm

If you make it through, and are hungry for more, review bulletin 39 as well.

The principle of specificity governs all sporting adaptation. You are what you repeat.

NDB
3 years 3 months ago

I enjoy this debate. I have begun to use more race pace training with my swimmers over the last 2 years but I still don’t see it as a replacement for traditional aerobic base type training.

I have a challenge for you…Could you name 10 world class elite that were trained using this Rushall philosophy. Better yet can you name any who specialize in something over a 100?

The training of Phelps and Lochte is very far from this training that you are championing. How do you explain this?

3 years 3 months ago

NDB- Thank you for your comments.

Race-pace training *is* aerobic systems training. I encourage you to review the aforementioned papers for a detailed explanation, but quite frankly supposed measures of “general” aerobic/endurance capacity (VO2 Max, “Lactate Threshold”, etc) just don’t match up with competition performance.

Phelps and Lochte are at the top of an arena field where every single one of their competitors trained with the idea that non-competition specific activity IS relevant to performance. There isn’t anything odd about some people doing exceptionally well despite running under the same basic training principle: it’s a normal distribution curve.

In time, someone with the right genetic potential will meet a coach/team that is willing to run a USRPT program fully.

Nobody is making any promises that USRPT is a “magic bullet” that will transform sinkers into Olympians. Different people will have different ceilings, just as in any other sport or activity (school, music, etc). But exercise science literature indicates that USRPT is the most effective way to enable individuals to fulfill their *individual* FULL POTENTIAL…

I invite people interested in continuing discussion further to reach out to the aforementioned email address.

info@swimmingscience.net
Subject Line: “Cam USRP Group”

...
3 years 3 months ago

A direct quote from this guy:
“Similarly, heavy training and dryland training are unrelated to swimming improvements”.

I would first like to state that this may or may not be the stupidest thing I’ve heard in my entire life.

Also I am pretty appalled at the way this guys just completely trashes training techniques used by the best coaches in the world to train the fastest swimmers in the world…. You cant just get on the internet and say that lactate sets and broken swims are irrelevant….Just my 0.02 cents.

MickeyT
3 years 3 months ago

Sorry, but that quote was taken out of context. The full “comment” in a sense was that “High-yardage training and dryland training demands are unrelated to or negatively impact male elite swimming performances” , quite a different meaning to “heavy training and dryland are unrelated to swimming mprovements”

Bourdais
3 years 3 months ago

Current NAG record holder in three different strokes? Wonder how long he can keep that up, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a swimmer be internationally competitive in three different strokes. on that basis I doubt much longer, though he could be a mean 200m IM swimmer if he builds up his endurance.

Another question is whether he can make the Olympic team in Rio – he will be 17 and four months. His story so far is reminiscent of rare talents along the lines of Thorpe and Phelps. Thorpe did it at a similar age and Phelps was over two years younger when he got 5th at his first Olympics. On the other hand, his current event specialties work against him in this regard. It seems to be “easier” for younger swimmers to compete in middle/long distance events and non-freestyle events, while world class 17 year old freestyle sprinters are almost unheard of. That said, a first Olympics at 21 is still quite young, but it would be an invaluable experience to make the 2016 even if he doesn’t medal, like Phelps in 2000.

I’ll stop now, I think I’m getting ahead of myself. Regardless, certainly one to watch, and I hope things work out well for him.

3 years 3 months ago

His 50 free time is really impressive.If i am not mistaken, Cesar Cielo was 25.2 at 14.And all the guys who are breaking his age group records in Brazil, the best at 14 is 23.9.
I dont know the best Australian at 14, but at 15(Te Haumi Maxwell) is 23.03, not far off.

LC rules
3 years 3 months ago

Kyle chalmers is clearly faster, 23.1 for 50 and 50.8 for 100. His 100 fly is a lot stronger than Andrews too. Who cares about yards outside of America anyway?

SprintDude9000
3 years 3 months ago

The Australian age group record for 14 year olds was set this year: 23.18.

3 years 3 months ago

He did only turn 14 a couple of months ago though, I expect him to take it lower.

Patsy
3 years 3 months ago

Personally, if he will make an Olympics, I think that his best bet will be 2016. Based on his set up, I can’t see how he will be competitive enough in 2020 in that he is maximising his potential right now – size, looks like free weights too, if the upper lip shadow in the 2nd pic is evidence of shaving, then a very early onset of puberty, 1:1 attention and focus, I would guess lots of hours in training, and clearly, talent and good genes. The post also talks about him taking food supplements (at 13/14?) already.

Looking at all of this though, where is the room for growth/development? That is why I think that once he stops growing, it is unlikely his times will drop any further if he stays clean. I nevertheless wish him all the very best. Go Michael!

H2Opinion
3 years 3 months ago

Bourdais,

We have seen a swimmer internationally competitive in three different strokes. His name is Michael Phelps, and his strokes were butterfly, freestyle, and backstroke (and to a lesser degree, let us not forget about Neil Walker).

Many of us forget that Phelps was in the upper echelon of the backstroke events (namely the 200), but because of the order of events on the international level, rarely was able to compete in the those events.

Also, if you want to count the I.M. as an additional “stroke,” Lochte and one Scott “Tyler” Clary may be of significance.

aswimfan
3 years 3 months ago

At the same age, Thorpe was selected as part of the Australian team to 1997 Pan Pacs in 400 m.
Also at similar age (a bit older by few months), Phelps won selection to 2000 Olympics.

So, to follow Thorpe/Phelps projection, Andrew will have to win a selection to Barcelona Worlds.

Bourdais
3 years 3 months ago

Yeah, it kind of falls apart there. I did say “reminiscent” rather than “repeat”, and what I meant was that they all took down a massive haul of NAG records at a similar age, not that this guy would replicate Thorpe and Phelps’ achievements to a tee. I also specifically mentioned that the events Andrew specialises at are extremely difficult for younger swimmers to do well at. In both men’s and women’s swimming at the top level, you tend to see a lot more younger swimmers in the distance freestyle events and the non freestyle events.

aswimfan
3 years 3 months ago

Yes, I agree that sprints are difficult for younger male swimmers to break through the upper rank.

So he specializes in sprints, but when I said that in my previous comment, people were jumping on me saying he swims longer distances too.

Eagleswim
3 years 3 months ago

Phelps was internationally competitive in fly free and back

gosharks
3 years 3 months ago

Also, Natalie Coughlin was internationally competitive in back, free, and fly.

SprintDude9000
3 years 3 months ago

Roland Schoeman is the WR holder in 50m free, the second fastest ever in 50m fly and also the second fastest ever in 50m breaststroke. His backstroke isn’t as strong but still ridiculous fast and potentially competitive at World Cup level too I believe.

PAORN
3 years 3 months ago

Let us not forget Tracy Caulkins…a woman, but way ahead of her time and swam EVERY stroke at the national level.

Philip Johnson
3 years 3 months ago

i just recently heard of this swimmer and I know there are very very high expectations on him. best of luck to him and his family!

pvk
3 years 3 months ago

I don’t think he made the right choice on this one. 14 years old, really?!?! Do you really think he’s considering much else besides making some money?? I think he will regret his decision once NCAA recruiting for the class of 2017 rolls around.

Patsy
3 years 3 months ago

I thought that at first, but then changed my mind. He is home schooled. Dad is his coach etc. I read into this that every thing is done (it seems lovingly) to maximise his swim potential – down to the building of a 2 lane pool in their backyard.

Bearing this in mind, I am not sure he would have done well swimming in College where you have schedules outside of swimming and minimum GPAs to meet, not to talk of being one of many and not a coach’s sole focus. Once I figured that, I thought he is probably doing the right thing for him.

Eagleswim
3 years 3 months ago

The whole home schooling thing makes it worse! His parents have brainwashed him… This should be illegal… His dad is using him as some sort of super athlete experiment… Not fair to the kid he needs to have a real life

liquidassets
3 years 3 months ago

I agree that it’s an experiment, but I don’t think it’s a sinister one. I’ve read that he has plenty of friends and enjoys other hobbies besides swimming like any other kid. And I don’t know the father, so I can’t comment on whether Michael was brainwashed. While I do wonder whether 14 is too young to make such a decision to forego both high school and college swimming, on the other hand, if the kid gets bored and needs a change of pace, or misses training with a team, he can always shift his training to the competitive club setting in lieu of high school or college swimming. The family has already moved once, they could always move again if his needs changed and they had to to find adequate competition for him in practice.

There do seem to be some unique factors about Michael and his family that might make this work, where it likely wouldn’t with your average non home-schooled, non home-coached athlete who doesn’t have a training pool at home. The father’s training methods seem to be working well for now, obviously. Overall I’d say it’s an interesting experiment with some very obvious advantages and disadvantages which I’m sure that he and the parents have considered. I’m very interested to see how it plays out, and wish him the best.

liquidassets
3 years 3 months ago

I also forgot to say, he and his family have made their decision so it’s best to just observe and see what happens rather than argue about it. If it works, power to him and folks can learn from that. If it doesn’t work, others can learn from that too. While I don’t think I’d ever let my child do this, I honestly don’t know for sure because I’ve never been anywhere close to being in that position.

liquidassets
3 years 3 months ago

I just saw the video interview of him in the other article on here and now I think this could end badly. Rather than more mature, like I had heard about him, he actually seems more naive and impressionable than the average 14 year old. He should have waited.

SwimMom
3 years 3 months ago

I take offense to your comment about it being so much worse that he’s homeschooled. It seems to me that he does a LOT of traveling to swim meets. Do you have any idea how much public school he would miss to attend meets? Homeschooling allows for a lot of flexibility.

I homeschool my kids and they’re also both swimmers. As with Michael’s family, homeschooling allows us the flexibility to do a lot of traveling that we could not do if the kids were locked into a public school schedule. Intellectually, my kids are beyond their grade levels in all subjects and they are very well liked by other kids so the “no socialization” argument against homeschooling is always laughable to me. My son is 12, 6’2″ and 150 lbs. He doesn’t yet have the bulk that Michael has, but he is going to be HUGE – he is expected to be 6’8″ to 7′ tall. His dad is 6’5″ and I’m 6’1″. I am excited to see his swimming progress in the next few years. I am also excited to see what the future has in store for Michael Andrew.

BangorBoy
2 years 1 month ago

“locked into a public school schedule” – by this I guess you mean mixing with other children in a working-style environment, enjoying various extra curricular activities and maybe even scheduling some time for FUN. I’m sorry but home-schooling always feels a little suspicious to me, like parents don’t want their children to know what else is out there in case they deviate from their control

3 years 3 months ago

Someone should talk some sense into his parents.

Kate
3 years 3 months ago

Thank you Paul. Finally a straightforward comment I can get in with. When I saw that his parents are acting as his agents my blood ran cold. And that list with Andrea Jaeger and Michelle Wie on it…..look what happened to them. Andrea flamed out and also had to deal with a psycho father and Michelle Wie has never done what was expected of her. To expect kids to deal with emotional pressures as adults is never wise. That kid may be 6’4″ but he is still a kid.

Lane Four
3 years 3 months ago

Does anyone remember the name Todd Marinovich? Dad tried to turn him into a football genius and although he climbed the ladder with good success, he crashed and burned so fast it was horrible to watch. I become extremely nervous when I hear about parents taking over the reigns of their child’s complete life. All we can do is sit back and just see what happens. I am hoping and praying that Michael will be the exception and flourish. Maybe a certain Mr. Phelps should step in and give Michael some very sound words of wisdom.

Kevin
3 years 3 months ago

I agree with Paul after watching video of NAG spash and dash 50m record, It looks premature to reject a possible NCAA team experience and degree in case his swim career does not always get him a front and center lane. I wish him well but wouldn’t be surprised if his endorsement contract with P2Life/sponser is tied to future records and inflated expectations. Inflated like the claims of certain Creatine formulations.

Swimmer
3 years 3 months ago

He is going to burn out.

bobo gigi
3 years 3 months ago

Why are you so pessimistic? It’s good to be optimistic.

kp
3 years 3 months ago

Burnout?? What makes people burn out are the insane high yardage programs that most kids train in, along with the overuse injuries that come with them. And to swim tired most of the year, and put all your eggs in one basket (peak for one or two meets) and get sick or something before or during those 1 or 2 meets?

As far as many of the other comments– From all I can tell, Michael’s parents are loving and truly want him to have fun. One can get a great education without attending traditional school or college. Some of the most well educated people I know are self-educated. Especially with computers now– the sky is the limit.

We have a tendency sometimes to think of money as a “dirty” thing. The desire to make money in the absence of other values is what can make it that way. This is FAR from the case in Michael’s family. Just listen to the interviews.

I agree with Peter Andrew that traveling provides the best education. I was lucky enough to go around the world on Semester At Sea, and the experience blew away my four years at a very good liberal arts school.

As far as the NCAA being the be-all-end all as a preparation for Olympics, we’ve seen some NCAA stars never make that leap. No guarantees. The one thing that I’m sorry about is that he will miss the day to day camaraderie of being on a team, as well as the unmatched excitement of duel meet competition (My own BEST memories of both swimming and coaching– going home having lost our voices from cheering, with meets coming down to who wins the last relay!!)
But you can’t have everything. Most of us will never be elite swimmers competing on the international stage. Perhaps Michael will have that.

If this works out, people will be lining up to train with or learn from Peter and Michael.

And lets be grateful– Michael may someday be representing the USA!!! I am thrilled that his folks found a way to stay here. Go Team Indie, and where can I get one of those shirts?!!!

SprintDude9000
3 years 3 months ago

From a physiological perspective he clearly won’t burn out (in fact it’s virtually impossible using Rushall’s method) but psychologically? We’ll have to wait and see. His lack of team mates and school mates (he is homschooled) leaves me slightly worried. Hopefully I’m proved wrong though as he is a massive talent and interesting to follow!

lem
3 years 3 months ago

I think ALL of us can agree that swimming is an expensive sport for a family to provide to their kids who train with USA Swimming clubs, especially when you consider monthly fees, meet fees, swim suits, travel, etc. etc. etc, so you can’t blame the family for taking a deal – especially when you consider the expenses they’ve incurred over the years traveling to meets all over the US to showcase Michael’s talent – but interestingly enough – staying away from meets where they could REALLY see where their son stacks up against the Ryan Hoffer’s and the Maxime Rooney’s of the world……opting instead to visit “Championship” meets where he can swim against the 20 year olds and perhaps get more EXPOSURE.

There is no doubting this family is a good family – very close – and supportive – but I do agree with the “Marinovich” syndrome – in a way – but not to an extreme level.

There’s no question – based upon the places where Michael swims and the number of postings on this website that the family is seeking EXPOSURE – which I can’t blame them for. They may be in a position where they need to go “pro” in order to continue to fund operations – which with what they’ve already invested – it’s either spend more – or cut your losses – and when you don’t have the necessary funds – then it’s continue to attract new investors.

What I’m intrigued with – and what I think the parents are missing – is IF Michael was a valuable and worthy endorsements – sports agents (representing various swimming manufacturers and other entitites) would be meeting up with the Andrew family at every meet they attend – offering the possibility of an endorsement deal – but instead – the Andrew’s family are representing themselves for now.

A nutritional supplement company, which I believe is like an Advocare or the multilevel marketing business, may bring in a temporary cash tranche to help with some of the expenses, but I believe they have a better opportunity to solidify their financial condition by simply finding the space to coach a USA Swim Club and bring a MASS of new kids into their facility that could satisfy 2 concerns – Money – and Michael wanting to swim with other kids.

Going pro serves only 2 purposes – I want to be recognized as being one of the best and being PAID for my efforts. Until Michael steps up at COMPETES against the BEST in his age group – I think the jury is still out and this is just a means to gain more EXPOSURE – because the endorsement he signed – just isn’t enough to warrant him as the best.

No Diva
3 years 3 months ago

I agree with your first paragraph–lots of garbage yardage and over use injuries by the age of 13. I applaud these parents that are looking for another way. We have several in our state doing the same thing. There is no guarantee that he would be any faster longer with another training method. Our mantra is this: take success when it is offered to you! There are no guarantees and everyone prematurely predicting long term failure for him couldn’t guarantee long term success with any other training method. At elite levels it’s really about genetic freaks–and lets face it: he’s won the genetic freak lottery!

3 years 3 months ago

Thank you for your astute comment. It is obvious that you gave it a lot of thought (-:

duckduckgoose
3 years 3 months ago

Best of luck to him, but I wonder about socialization issues. He’s 14, home schooled, coached by his dad, and won’t swim in college. Foregoing opportunities to be around peers your own age in adolescence raises some alarms about personal development outside the pool.

Sean S
3 years 3 months ago

They say they made this decision together but as a 14 year old there is no way he understands the full implications of this so it is really only his parents choice. I understand that the commitment they have put into his swimming isn’t cheap but I think this is a huge mistake. If he was a superstar going into the 2016 Olympics and he turned pro I would get it but to do it now is just crazy. Swimming with his dad as his coach, with no teammates and now these gigantic expectations that come with turning pro at this age it is hard to imagine he won’t burn out. I hope that he doesn’t, but it would be very understandable if he does. I also can’t imagine this sponsorship is for all that much money, I doubt the cost of 4 years at a high level university will be covered by the time he is ready to go to college unless he adds several more sponsors.

Philip Johnson
3 years 3 months ago

I agree that no 14 year old boy really knows the full consequences of this decision. but the best we can do is wish them luck.

Ben
3 years 3 months ago

Congrats to Michael! With the amount of travel he and his family does to compete at elite level meets it makes sense for them to lighten the load any way they can. We probably will see him struggle, emotionally more than performance-wise, as he gets closer to the college recruiting time. But maybe not. I’ve said it before on this site, I’ve met Michael’s parents and observed them on deck. It’s without a doubt that Michael is his toughest critic, his parents really are parents first not coaches.

ArtVanDeLegh10
3 years 3 months ago

First, not too many NAG record holders go on to be great college aged swimmers, let alone international players or Olympians.

Secondly, he obviously is a stud, but remember back when you were an age group swimmer. Usually the fastest swimmers were the ones that matured sooner than everyone else–aka, the biggest/tallest. He’s 6’4, 178.

I liked the Todd Marinovich comparison, although we really don’t know what his life is like at home. The Marinovich story was eye opening. If you haven’t heard about it, find the 30 for 30 on ESPN and watch it.

Does anyone actually think that Michael will be seeing any of his endorsements/money? If not (and I doubt he’ll see any of it), it certainly leads me to believe that his parents are just trying to make money for themselves/get more publicity.

Patsy
3 years 3 months ago

It does sound like his parents really care for him though, even though they might seem a bit unconventional in their choices for him…

3 years 3 months ago

Patsy, his parents are from South Africa (though now US citizens). For them swimming is about the Olympic experience. The NCAA experince is a big part of the US swimming culture. It’s unconventional for US swimmers because we believe the path to elite swimming runs through the college ranks. Outside of the US, if you’re fast, you’re focused on the Olympic stage.

rory connell
3 years 3 months ago

mel i think you need to reexamine the ncaa landscape
look @ auburn, arizona, usc, floridae etc etc & how many internationals are not only coming swimming collegiately, but staying or coming back post grad or pro to train. they are littered through every program in a good way. i love it! its what makes NCAA swimming the fastest meet around.
Salo has how many swimmers under his guidance from how many different countries?
USA is the melting pot, where all good things come together to be better.
Sergio has foreigners down @ Bolles because their training environments are that much more competitive back in their home countries, NO WAY!
Fast international level swimmers want an education PLUS the swimming side & they come to the states in droves.

3 years 3 months ago

I agree, Rory… The NCAA has become the biggest international pro-producing platform (and you get an education as you develop…I did). Still, it’s not for everyone. Many international elites stay home and focus on the Olympics. In the US, however, 99.9% of us look through the NCAA lens only. The US path is not the only path to the Games. That’s all I’m saying.

duckduckgoose
3 years 3 months ago

Good point about non-American perspectives on NCAA swimming. Katie Hoff’s mom played basketball at Stanford, so that family clearly understood what benefits, opportunities, coaching, and training infrastructure are available at a college swimming power.

swimm
3 years 3 months ago

not everyone makes the Olympics, and he has not secured a spot. Even if he is amazing, 3rd, 4th, 5th place at trials is amazing, and who knows if he will be top 2 or the unlucky 3rd, or even final. Which leaves him with no endorsements, no NCAA, and a maybe even given up a little bit of enjoyment in life and swimming along the way

?????
3 years 3 months ago

WHY? Unless the family is really, really hard up for money in which case the college scholarship is the safer bet, and it doesn’t seem they are with their own pool and all the traveling they do, this is strictly a PUBLICITY stunt, and it is working since I’m bothering to write on some web site comment page.

?????
3 years 3 months ago

an ego driven publicity stunt. “See how good MY KID is !”

?????
3 years 3 months ago

Shame on P2Life.

Dr. Evil
3 years 3 months ago

In the music world, teen age talents like Justin Bieber and Austin Mahone along with many others have had very successful professional careers and no one tells them to hold back or it was a bad decision.

NASCAR’s Kyle Busch actually had to graduate early from high school before he was allowed to race in the regular series, and has had a great professional career. His parents along with many other parents in that series have played an instrumental role in their development and management.

This weekend, two teenagers went 1-2 in the ARCA/ReMax series. It is the developmental series right below the regular NASCAR level. They are professional athletes and I don’t think anyone is telling them with the talent they have to wait or hold back because it’s a bad decision.

DR EVIL HAS SPOKEN!!

ArtVanDeLegh10
3 years 3 months ago

There have been a lot of young music talents, but most of them fade out hard as they get older. I know it’s a lot different, but look at child actors/actresses that are stars at a young age. 90% of them end up having drug problems later on in life. Zach Morris is one of the only ones still going strong-haha.

Look at all the swimmers that have gone pro early from the USA. Other than Phelps (and I suppose Hoff–depends on how you want to look at it), how many have actual had more success after they went pro? Not too many.

bobo gigi
3 years 3 months ago

Plese, don’t call Justin Bieber a music talent!

Lane Four
3 years 3 months ago

Thank you, Bobo.

Steve Nolan
3 years 3 months ago

Yeah, but it’s the part where it goes horribly wrong and the kid’s life is ruined that we’re looking out for here.

ole 99
3 years 3 months ago

Anyone know which flag he plans to swim under, USA or South Africa?

bobo gigi
3 years 3 months ago

First, and many people forget that, nobody knows if he will swim on the world stage one day.
Second, if it’s the case, the qualifications would be of course much easier in South Africa. But if he’s a big talent and wants to win many medals, especially on relays, he will swim for USA. His life with his family is in USA. And his first name is Michael like Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan or Michael Johnson.

beqchmouse
3 years 3 months ago

South Africa may be an easier international team to make, but they’ve also been asking their second tier athletes to pay their own way to the big international meets lately.

SWIMGUY123
3 years 3 months ago

Interesting decision. Agreed, he is a huge talent, but he’s physically huge himself so young. NAG records don’t always tell the tale for who will be the best when it’s all said and done. Who is this quarterback going to Stanford who might walk on to the swim team?

PAC12BACKER
3 years 3 months ago

Very well written article with a lot of background information on other young pro athletes across all sports. Kudos to Braden. I keep thnking maybe this kid should have tried other sport discplines before going whole hog into swimming as a sub 10 year-old. Maybe he would have had uber talent in other sports (i.e. higher paying sports).

The smartest thing is the race-pace sprint training philosophy. Some of the other decisions…well good luck with that.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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