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American swimmer – Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps, born June 30, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland, is an American swimmer. He has won 14 career Olympic gold medals, the most by any Olympian. As of August 2008, he also holds seven world records in swimming.
In his youth, Phelps was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He started swimming at age seven, partly because of the influence of his sisters and partly to provide him with an outlet for his energy.
Phelps excelled as a swimmer, and by the age of 10 held a national record for his age group. More age group records followed, and Phelps’s rapid improvement culminated in his qualifying for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the age of 15 — a result he wasn’t exactly expecting.
“At first I couldn’t really believe it. I thought I saw it and had to take my goggles off to really see,” Phelps said of the race. He was the youngest man on the U.S. swim team, but despite his age and lack of international experience, he made the final in Sydney and finished fifth. Five months after that race, Phelps became the sport’s youngest male world-record holder when he claimed the 200m fly mark.
At first glance, Phelps might look like a typical swimmer. But several of his physical characteristics seem genetically tailored for swimming. His 6-foot-7-inch wingspan is three inches longer than his height, providing him with unusual reach. His torso is long compared to his legs, enabling him to ride high on the water. And his flexible ankles, combined with size-14 feet, allow for a powerful kick. Add to that more than a decade of high-intensity
, and you get one of the fastest swimmers in history.
Overall, Phelps has won 16 Olympic medals: six gold and two bronze at Athens in 2004, and eight gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. In winning these medals, he has twice equaled Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin’s record of eight medals (of any type) at a single Olympics; Dityatin garnered eight at the 1980 Summer Olympics, while Phelps won eight medals at both the 2004 Summer Olympics and the 2008 Summer Olympics.