The Phelps Phenomenon
August 18, 2008 3 Comments
The media has been agog with Michael Phelps‘ feat — and for good reason. Winning 8 Olympics Gold medals, is, ah … well … Olympic! The way Phelps has dominated the sport of swimming over the last few years (as I have gathered from newspaper reports). It is incredible that a human being has engineered himself into becoming such an achiever. Especially in the light of India regaling the lone gold medal, the 8 Golds that Phelps has won shows how he must have pursued his goal with almost maniacal single-minded concentration.
It seems that his physique has probably also developed in a manner to suit his devotion to the sport [ndtv]:
According to his coach Eddie Reese, Michael Phelps is not only the most talented swimmer but also the hardest working.
And to complete the nightmare for his peers, the bionic ‘Aqua Man’ has a peerless physique to boot. It took 36 years to break Mark Spitz’s seven-gold performance and it may take an eternity to eclipse Phelps, for the American has a unique 6’4″ weapon, his physique, that is quite a stuff of dreams for others.
While his talent and hard-work are well-documented, Phelps owes his success largely to his amazing physique which boasts of some unique features that leads to the belief that he was born only to swim. He has a long, thin torso that is just what a swimmer aspires for and he weighs 195 pound.
Generally, a man’s arm span equals his height but in his case it’s 6’7″ — three inches more than his height. Naturally his arms work as powerful propulsive paddles, giving him a clear edge over others.
His lower body, interestingly, is shorter than that of an average man of his height. His relatively short legs result in less drag or resistance. In short, Phelps has an upper body of a 6’8″ person but his lower body seems to be of someone who is only 5″10″, which also make the perfect plane in water.
His size 14 feet may not dwarf Ian Thrope’s size 17 but Phelps’ double-jointed ankles allow him to do a ballerina’s ‘pointe’ standing on the tips of the toes. It allows him to whip his feet as if those are flippers and break loose.
His unique constitution also produces less lactic acid than others which means Phelps takes less time to recover. And if he looks indefatigable at times, it’s because of the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which he was diagnosed with at the tender age of nine. His daily routine is equally mindboggling.
He consumes 12,000 calorie every day and trains 96 km every week. Naturally it was hardly surprising when Russian swimmer Alexander Sukhorukov went on to describe Phelps as “just a normal person, from a different planet, a planet from a different galaxy.”
Also, worth exploring are the following:
- Michael Phelps official site
- A Time.com visual essay on Phelps – link
- Mark Spitz on Phelps’ achievement – link
- Lots of pictures of Phelps but with some gibberish text – link
No mean feat of course is Usain Bolt’s breaking the 100 m dash record — the ease with which he did it is mind boggling (his last 20 metres he was almost relaxing).
PS: To see videos in case silverlight doesn’t work, you can go to DailyMotion, search for “phelps” or “bold” and order by most recent.
And here’s wishing our boxers the very best!