Michael began swimming at the age of seven, partly because of the influence of his sisters and partly to provide him with an outlet for his energy. By the age of 10, he held a national record for his age group, and Phelps began to train at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under coach Bob Bowman. More age group records followed, and Phelps’ rapid improvement culminated in his qualifying for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the age of 15 and becoming the youngest male to make a U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years.
At the World Championship Trials for the 2001 World Aquatics Championships, on 22 July, 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, breaking the record previously held by Ian Thorpe when he lowered the 400 m freestyle world record at 16 years, 10 months.
Phelps holds the record for the most gold medals won in a single Olympics; his eight at the 2008 Beijing Games surpassed American swimmer Mark Spitz’s seven-gold performance at Munich in 1972. Phelps also holds the all-time record for most gold Olympic medals, at 14.
Phelps’s international titles and record breaking performances have earned him the World Swimmer of the Year Award six times and American Swimmer of the Year Award eight times. He has won a total of sixty-six medals in major international competition, fifty-four gold, nine silver, and three bronze spanning the Olympics, the World, and the Pan Pacific Championships. His unprecedented Olympic success in 2008 earned Phelps Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportsman of the Year award.
After the 2008 Summer Olympics, Phelps used his $1 million Speedo bonus to set up the Michael Phelps Foundation, which focuses on growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthier lifestyles.
In 2010 the Michael Phelps Foundation, the Michael Phelps Swim School and KidsHealth.Org developed and nationally piloted the IM program for Boys & Girls Club members. The im program teaches children the importance of being active and healthy, with a focus on the sport of swimming.
A street in his hometown of Baltimore was re-named The Michael Phelps Way in 2004.
On April 9, 2009 Phelps was invited to appear before the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate, to be honored for his Olympic accomplishments.
Phelps has said he will compete at the 2012 Summer Olympics but it would likely be his last Olympics.
Michael’s considerable sporting experience, combined with his pleasing manner, informed approach and articulate delivery, make him a natural choice for personal appearances, motivational and after dinner speaking, as well as corporate days and promotions.