Michael Phelps Swimming (Again) at 11-years old: 200 Free

Jeff Cooper, the man who brought us this homemade video of Michael Phelps’ pre-race routine that looked a whole lot at 11 like it does now, has dug up another video from the Cooper family archives of “that fast kid that we should probably record”.

Remember that these were before the days of YouTube; so if kids wanted examples to watch and imitate on video, they couldn’t just instantly pull up an hour of over-and-underwater footage of Gary Hall Jr. and Alexander Popov voiced over by Glenn Mills or Mel Stewart. They either had to track down someone who was selling VHS’ and wait a few weeks for delivery, or they had to find the fastest kid in their region, lug out the big box, point-and-shoot.

So that’s exactly what the Cooper family did.

Early on, you can hear a conversation between what we assume is Mrs. Cooper and another mom. One remarks that “if he keeps up that pace, he’s going to lap everyone” to which the response is “he breathes every stroke.”

At the time, breathing every stroke and to the same side was still pretty unusual in the United States, especially at the age group level, though it had taken on a lot of traction in places like Australia.

Remember that Phelps was coached by Bob Bowman for basically his entire swimming career, so there’s no huge stroke changes from 11 years old until 27 years old; he obviously became more technically proficient, but the same basic hallmarks are there.

The video is shot at the Naval Academy’s Lejune Hall pool; Cooper estimates his splits to have been:

1:03 … 33
1:38 … 35
2:13 … 35

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bobo gigi

Thanks for the video! Michael was already dominant at this time! And he has really improved his underwaters since then! 🙂
Amazing we can watch that on youtube and still not his first world title in 2001. I’m still waiting for the video!


well, bad video and audio quality and Italian commentary, but there you go



Many thanks Luigi. That’s a great find.

Here’s one of Mel Stewart winning gold at the 1991 World Championships in a new world record.



What is the “Hello!” for?

bobo gigi

And about another 11-year-old young talent swimswam has introduced to us last year, here are videos of Carson Foster. He had broken the 100 fly 10 and under NAG record of Mr Phelps last year and he’s still very fast this year. He has swum last week 28.49 in the 50 fly and 1.03.44 in the 100 fly, which are, according to Jim Foster who has posted the videos on youtube (perhaps his father?), the fastest times for an 11-year-old boy in US history.

50 fly

C Martin

Watch out for Max Miranda. Rio 2016.


I’m jumping on Max Miranda bandwagon

C Martin

I’m predicting by this time next year that he’s under Phelps’ 1:59.02 NAG Record in the 200 LCM Fly. He’s already at 2:07.11. Ranked #14 all-time at just 13 years old.


Corey Okubo was a 2:06 low or 2:05 high at 13 and he only dropped a second or two the next year at 14. He was 1:58 last year at 16 so you can’t say that he stopped growing or anything, but sometimes that drop between 13 and 14 especially when one is already that fast is incredibly difficult to maintain. Phelps was Phelps for a reason, and he was the only one who could drop that low from 13 to 14 after already being so fast. As cool as it would be to see someone take down one of the best Phelps age group records, I don’t think it will happen next year.

C Martin

While that is true, keep in mind that Miranda has been improving at an astonishing rate. 2:07.11 this year compared to 2:20.00 earlier in the season. When Okubo was 13, his slowest 200 Fly was a 2:15.25 and he was consistently swimming 2:06’s to 2:09’s. Miranda has kept on improving. Here are all of his 200 Fly’s LCM EVER: 2:20.00 – 10/13/12 2:12.36 – 3/14/13 2:14.00 – 3/14/13 2:09.13 – 5/25/13 2:10.89 – 5/25/13 2:16.38 – 6/22/13 2:08.29 – 7/12/13 2:10.43 – 7/12/13 2:08.04 – 7/19/13 2:07.11 – 7/19/13 Now, he still has the NE 13-19 Champs coming up August 1-4. Not sure if he will swim this event, but he has another shot (two actually) to break his record… Read more »


Well he was close with a 2:02.54 with the second fastest 13-14 time ever. Close, but no cigar, not quite.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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