Shout from the Stands: What we learn from Michael Phelps

by SwimSwam 16

August 31st, 2015 International, Lifestyle, Opinion

Courtesy of Josh Brown. Follow: @joshbrownisaman

Michael Phelps isn’t called the greatest swimmer in the world for nothing. He didn’t take swimming to an entirely new level by doing something everyone thought was possible. The question, Oh, are you the next Michael Phelps? might be just about the greatest compliment you could ever hope to get.

Michael Phelps (courtesy of Rafael Domeyko)

Michael Phelps (courtesy of Rafael Domeyko)

To err is human…

Michael Phelps can teach us so much about swimming, sports in general, and reaching your fullest potential. He shows us that you don’t have to be perfect to be the best. Sure, he has made mistakes, some that have negatively affected his swimming career. But from these mistakes he has shown us that it doesn’t take a superhero from another planet to come along and win countless Olympic Medals, and set countless world records. It takes an individual just like you and me, with an unwavering drive to be the best they can be. He teaches us that even though you mess up and the road seems rough, it’s never too late to bounce back. If you are struggling with life outside of the pool, Phelps shows us you can always regain your focus and achieve those great times, even when many thought you couldn’t.

You’re never too old…

Phelps also shows us that it’s never too late to go for the gold. Just this past U.S. National Championships, many people thought Phelps was past his prime, that he had fallen from the top list of the world’s swimming-elite. Instead, Phelps proved it’s never too late in your career, and it’s never a bad time to swim fast! He posted top times in the world as well as some of the fastest textile suit times ever! He did it in the United States, in Texas, not at an international meet, showing us it’s never the wrong place or the wrong time to lay it on the line and do your best.

Michael Phelps celebrates at US Nationals after topping Chad Le Clos' World Championships winning time. (courtesy of Rafael Domeyko)

Michael Phelps celebrates at US Nationals after topping Chad Le Clos’ World Championships winning time. (courtesy of Rafael Domeyko)


Finally, Phelps shows us how to rise to the occasion and not give in to pressure, either from ourselves, coaches, competitors, or anyone else (like the media in Michael Phelps’ case). Phelps demonstrates what we can accomplish when we set our minds to a goal. Throughout his career — from his 2000 Olympics, to his gold medal run in Beijing, to the 2015 U.S. National Championships — Phelps has always shouldered the pressure. He has endured it from other athletes around the world talking smack, from the public who sometimes doubted him…perhaps even from himself. Phelps always manages to use that to his advantage and rise to the occasion, allowing it to fuel his fire for an awesome swim. We should all be like that.

We can all learn a lot from the greatest swimmer to have ever graced the planet. He can inspire us all to do things we never thought we could before. Michael Phelps really can teach us a lot about the sport or swimming and how to rise to the challenge, and even more about the game of life!

Michael Phelps Parting Shot


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bobo gigi

Well said. Honestly, I didn’t want to see MP back from his “retirement” after London. I was afraid of never seeing again the “real” Michael Phelps and afraid of seeing more a phantom physically on the decline while being older and older and lacking motivation to train hard. I would have never thought that, in 2015, he would perform in such a great way. In the contrary, the greatest started to train hard again like in his best years, had tough in-season meets but he knew all that work would pay-off at the end of the season and it paid off in San Antonio. That was truly a wonderful surprise. But maybe I should have seen that coming. MP always… Read more »


This is the happiest I’ve ever seen michael, he’s a new man. Sober, training well, engaged, what’s not to be happy about? Well said Bobo 🙂


Well said Bobo. I agree with all of your sentiments. Like you, I was sceptical of his ability keep improving (textile bests) beyond the age of 30, and this year he has pretty much done just that. Let’s see him push it another year into 2016. Bowman/MP is the master of the double taper, so lets hope that they keep the same recipe going into OT’s.


It’s all in the head. There’s an Indian marathon athlete of over 100 years old who is still running over 40km at international meetings. Another guy over 50 years old who has the world record of pull-ups. Our body just responds to our heart and mind, and MP is showing that wonderfully well.


Yes, he has made mistakes. Yes, he is far from perfect. But on the contrary to this statement is fellow elite Ryan Lochte. Age is just a number, true, but in a sport where numbers are everything, Phelps having a built-for-swimming body with a huge wingspan, giant feet, and most importantly a body which disposes of lactic acid better than any of his competitors lets him “break the rules” of sports science. Phelps is superior to those around him. His body is simply more resilient to the hardships of competitive swimming. Bowman burnt out the entire NBAC crew because he had never trained a truly world-class elite level swimmer other than Phelps. He created a training methodology of how to… Read more »


I don’t know about all of those but I can definitely see a sub 50 100 fly happening. His second half was insanely fast. All he needs to do is go out a little faster.


i agree with all of these predictions but why no splits for free and im? and btw i more think something like 53.1/58.7 in the 2 fly

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