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Michael Phelps

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Michael Fred Phelps II (born June 30, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland) is an American swimmer and world-record holder (as of 2006).

Michael Phelps (at the age of 15) first appeared at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney as the youngest American male swimmer at an Olympic Games in 68 years. While he did not win a medal, he was fifth in the 200 m Butterfly, Phelps proceeded to make a name for himself in swimming shortly thereafter. Five months after the Sydney Olympics, Phelps broke the world record in the 200 m butterfly to become, at 15 years and 9 months, the youngest man ever to set a swimming world record. He 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 400 m individual medley and set American marks in the 100 m butterfly and the 200 m individual medley.

In 2003, Phelps broke his own world record in the 400 m individual medley (4:09.09) and in June, he broke the world record in the 200 m individual medley (1:56.04). Then on July 7, 2004, Phelps broke his own world record again in the 400 m individual medley (4:08.41) during the U.S. trials for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

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 Land Rover with two friends. Phelps, who was 19 at the time (21 is the legal drinking age in Maryland), was arrested and cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. His specific blood alcohol content was .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 area high schools by June 1, 2005.

He won the 2003 Sullivan Award.

2004 Summer Olympic Games

Phelps' dominance has brought comparisons to former swimming great Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals in the 1972 Summer Olympics, a world record. Phelps had the chance to break that record in the 2004 Athens Olympics by competing in eight swimming events: the 200 m freestyle, the 100 m butterfly, the 200 m butterfly, the 100 m backstroke, the 200 m backstroke, the 200 m individual medley, the 400 m individual medley, the 4x100 m freestyle relay and the 4x100 m medley relay. Unfortunately, his 4x100 m freestyle relay team only won the bronze medal, and he personally placed for bronze in the 200 m freestyle. Thus, he fell just short of that record. However, he did win eight medals in one Olympics, a feat only achieved by Alexander Dityatin, a gymnast, in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

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. 4x100 m freestyle team, publicly criticized the possibility of allowing Phelps to swim in the event. In the view of some, 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. More specifically though, they claimed that he had not swum the 100 m freestyle at Olympic Trials, and although having posted one of the top times in the nation, he should not have expected to gain an automatic berth.

On August 14, 2004, he won his first Olympic gold, in the 400 m individual medley, setting another new world record (4:08.26). On August 16 he was beaten by the Australian winner Ian Thorpe and the Dutch Pieter van den Hoogenband in 200 m freestyle final, called the race of the century.

On August 20, in the 100 m 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 an individual event will be automatically given the corresponding leg of the 4x100 m medley relay. This gave Phelps an automatic entry into the medley relay, but as he was tired from his endeavours and recognised that Crocker was a superior relay swimmer, he graciously gave up the butterfly leg in the finals 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.

Michael has two older sisters, Whitney and Hilary. Both excelled with swimming. Whitney was a promising swimmer but quit the sport due to a back injury.

Phelps graduated Towson High School in the Summer of 2003.

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, the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, 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 classes, intending to major in sports marketing or sports management. Phelps cannot swim for the team, however, because his endorsement deals with Speedo and other companies have caused him to forfeit his amateur status.



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