Shouts From the Stands: The Day Michael Phelps Called Me

SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please [email protected]

This Shouts from the Stands comes from Austin Levingston, who writes about a magical moment he had late last year with Michael Phelps.

My name is Austin Levingston. I was born September 8th, 1994 in Wichita, KS but raised in Great Bend, KS. I’ve been autistic my whole life, a proud identical twin brother, and have a big passion for swimming. I graduated at Great Bend High School in 2013, and am now currently attending Barton Community College. I swam for Great Bend High School from 2009-2013, Golden Belt Swim Squad (summer league team) from 2009-2013, and McPherson, KS Special Olympics swim team from 2014-2015. 

It all happened 2 days after Christmas when I woke up around 11:30am late that morning to a missed phone call. I’ll probably never forget returning that call back just hours later especially after realizing that it was the man whom I have looked up to since I was 6 years old: Michael Phelps.

At first, I almost freaked but to tell you the truth, and he never failed to convince me that it was him. I know I was expecting a call fromMichael Phelps Foundation too but I had no idea when. Anyway, we had about a 5 minute conversation with each other and let me tell you: I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous but at the same time, I didn’t let anything hold me back.

It was probably one of the best calls I’ve ever gottenand if I were to explain into words on how much it meant to me, I couldn’t. I mean, for him to take the time to call me like he did, was generous of him. And I’ll never forget where I was when he called me:  Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers restaurant in Great Bend, Kansas.

Lastly? Well, there is no doubt that I still hope to meet him sometime. I would also like to go up and visit his foundation up in Maine sometime too but unfortunately, it is a little hard to say when we will go up there. I think I may have to save up a little money. In the mean time though, I am still in school and in no more than about one more year, I hope to be graduating with my associates degree in graphic design from Barton Community College and then from there, move on to Tabor College.

The Olympics? Well, that’ll probably be later on down the road but I’m hoping to be starting college swimming competition sometime soon, and I’m as motivated as ever thanks to that call from Michael.

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Great article about two heroes!

Beverly Cregger

I am so happy for my cousin to get this message from his all time idol. My biggest wish for Austin is to one day be able to meet Michael Phelps.

Heidi Moorefield

I’m so happy that you finally got your phone call Austin. I know you have been wanting and waiting for that for such a long time. Michael is one of the BEST roll models and stand up guys I have ever seen in my life. He is a True Inspiration to many, including myself. I give to the Michael Phelps Foundation because I know it has positive reinforcement all through the program. Keep up all your hard work and faith. Never give up your dreams. Go for it!!! Just like he did.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of 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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