Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Michael Phelps appeared at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney as the youngest American male swimmer at an Olympic Games in 68 years at the age of 15. While he didn't win a medal at the 2000 Olympics, Phelps proceeded to make a name for himself in swimming shortly thereafter. Five months after Sydney, Phelps broke the world record in the 200m butterfly and then broke his own record again at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan (1:54.58). At the 2002 Summer Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Phelps also broke the world record for the 400m individual medley and set American marks in the 100m butterfly and the 200m individual medley.
In 2003, Phelps broke his own world record in the 400m individual medley (4:09.09) and in June, he broke the world record in the 200m individual medley (1:56.04). Then on July 7, 2004, Phelps broke his own world record again in the 400m individual medley (4:08.41) during the U.S. trials for the 2004 Summer Olympics.
2004 Summer Olympic Games
Phelps' dominance brought comparisons to Puerto Rican-American swimmer, Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals in the 1972 Summer Olympics, a world record. Phelps had the chance to break that record in 2004 by competing in eight swimming events: the 200m freestyle, the 100m butterfly, the 200m butterfly, the 100m backstroke, the 200m backstroke, the 200m individual medley, the 400m individual medley, the 4x100m freestyle relay and the 4x100m medley relay. As his 4x100m freestyle relay team only won a bronze medal, and he personally placed for bronze in the 200m freestyle, he fell just short of that record. However, he did win eight medals in one Olympics, a feat only achieved by Aleksandr Dityatin, a gymnast, in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Michael has been seen as one of the world's best swimmers and was even named the best Olympian. Ever, by one newscaster.
|Michael Phelps' 2004 Summer Olympics Events|
|Final medal count: 8 (6 gold, 2 bronze)|
|August 14||400m individual medley||4:08.26 WR||1st|
|August 15||4x100m freestyle relay||3:14:62||3rd|
|August 16||200m freestyle||1:45.32 AR||3rd|
|August 17||200m butterfly||1:54.04 OR||1st|
|4x200m freestyle relay||7:07.33||1st|
|August 19||200m individual medley||1:57.14 OR||1st|
|August 20||100m butterfly||0:51.25 OR||1st|
|August 21||4x100m medley relay||3:31:54* WR||1st|
|WR: World Record; OR: Olympic Record; AR: American Record|
|*Phelps swam in the preliminary heat but not the final.|
Had he won seven golds, he would have been eligible for a US $1 million bonus from his sponsor, Speedo. Only a few days before the beginning of the swimming competition in Athens 2004, however, Gary Hall Jr. and Jason Lezak , both of whom were aiming to be on the U.S. 4x100m freestyle team, publicly criticized the possibility of allowing Phelps to swim in the event. They claimed that Phelps is not a top swimmer in the event and his presence could compromise the US team's performance in the name of what was called a "media circus" for Phelps to win eight gold medals. The episode only made it yet more clear that Phelps's participation in at least some of the relay events would depend solely on his performance in the individual events.
On August 20, in the 100m butterfly final, Phelps defeated American teammate Ian Crocker (who holds the world record in the event) by just 0.04 seconds. Traditionally, the olympian who places highest in a individual event will be automatically given the corresponding leg of the 4x100m medley relay. This gave Phelps an automatic entry into the medley relay, but as he was exhausted from the many races he had competed in over the preceding week, he gave up the butterfly leg to Crocker. The American medley team went on to win the event in world record time, and since he had raced in a preliminary heat of the medley relay, Phelps was also awarded a gold medal along with the team members that competed in the final.
See also: Swimming at the 2004 Summer Olympics
Outside of swimming
On November 4, 2004, Phelps was arrested in Salisbury, Maryland for driving under the influence after being pulled over for running a stop sign in his 2005 Land Rover with two friends. Phelps, who was 19 at the time (21 is the legal drinking age in the U.S.), was arrested and cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. His specific blood alcohol content was not released because of police policy, although in the state of Maryland, the legal limit is .08. Phelps pled guilty to driving while impaired, avoiding charges of driving under the influence, underage drinking and failure to stop at a stop sign.
On December 29, 2004, Phelps was sentenced to 18 months of probation. He was also fined $250, required to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving meeting, and to give speeches to students at three high schools by June 1, 2005.
As of 2005, Phelps is attending University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Phelps is following his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, who left Phelps' previous swim team to become the head swimming coach of the University of Michigan varsity swim team. Phelps is also serving as a volunteer assistant coach and is taking 2 classes, intending to major in sports marketing or sports management. Phelps cannot swim for the team, however, because his endorsement deal with Speedo prevents him from doing so.
- Michael Phelps official web site
- NBCOlympics.com: Michael Phelps
- Michael Phelps fan site
- Stroke by Stroke: How Michael Phelps turbocharged his repertoire (photos).
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