Baltimore’s Sunday Locals

Baltimore is home to many great figures in American history. This week we want to highlight one of the greatest olypians of our time, Michael Phelps. Having grown up and built his career in Baltimore, he is one of Baltimore’s most well known natives.

“You Have To Have A Dream”

Phelps at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Image credits: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in human history with 23 gold medals (28 total medals). He was the most successful athlete for four Olympics in a row. Phelps has set 39 world records, more than anyone in history.

Bob Bowman Michael Phelps’ lifetime coach described Michael as “a solitary man” with a “rigid focus“. Michael describes Bob who has coached him since he was 11 years old as a “drill sergeant” because of his disciplined and regimented ways. Phelps has relocated numerous times, to stay under the tutelage of Bob who’s demanding ways bring the best out of him.

Michael Phelps’s drive is complimented by his physique, standing at 6’4 (193cm) with a wing span (arm length) of 6’7 (201cm). His size 14 feet are ‘hypermobile’ or double jointed, his ankles can extend beyond the pointe of a ballet dancer, which enables him to whip his feet like a fish tail propelling his frame through the water. Full story by Michael Macri.

But all of Phelps’ success had to begin somewhere, and that location was Baltimore, Maryland.

A Baltimore, Maryland Native

Born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of nearby Towson. He attended Rodgers Forge Elementary, Dumbarton Middle School, and Towson High School. Phelps is the youngest of three children. His mother, Deborah Sue “Debbie” Phelps (née Davisson), is a middle school principal. His father, Michael Fred Phelps, is a retired Maryland State Trooper who played football in high school and college and tried out for the Washington Redskins in the 1970s. Phelps is of English, German, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent. His parents divorced in 1994, when he was nine years old, and his father remarried in 2000. Phelps later revealed that the divorce had a severe negative impact on him and his siblings, and his relationship with his father was distant for a few years after the divorce. He graduated from Towson High School in 2003.

Phelps 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. After retirement in 2016, he stated “The only reason I ever got in the water was my mom wanted me to just learn how to swim. My sisters and myself fell in love with the sport, and we decided to swim.” When Phelps was in the sixth grade, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD). Full article.

A dedicated swimmer, he pioneered many swim programs in Maryland that have grow into some of the best in the country.

It Wasn’t All a “Swim in the Pool”

Michael Phelps "You Have To Have A Dream" 5 Rules for Success & Killer Quotes
Image courtesy of Fearless Motivation

Phelps story is awe inspiring. He, too, has had fair share of ups and downs in life. And what life lessons do his struggles and successes hold for us?

  • Deal with your own issues effectively — Michael certainly dealt with ADHD and his parents’ divorce that way. His mother helped him cope up with his condition and channeled his energy into what he loved.
  • Cut out the drama — Michael’s story is inspirational but at the same time, neither the young man nor his family have exploited their experiences to sensationalize his life. They’ve told it like it is.
  • Zero in on your strengths and overcome your weaknesses — He was less than an average student at school, but Michael was a passionate and dedicated student of his sport. The young swimmer is known to have studied tapes of his races over and over, zeroing in on mistakes and working towards bettering himself constantly. Excellent is still not good enough.
  • Remain focused on your goals — At the Athens Olympics back in 2004, Phelps was beaten by teammate Ian Crocker beat in the 100m butterfly. He put up a poster of Crocker in his room to motivate him and keeps a list of his career goals beside his bed.
  • Pursue what you love with passion and put in a genuine effort — Phelps’ dedication to swimming was apparent back when he was nine and began to break national records in his age group. His commitment to what he does has grown with him. Full story.

“Dream as big as you can dream, and anything is possible.”

It’s not just his career and his unbelievable performance at the Olympics that classify Phelps as a winner — it’s his story of inspiration that makes him a real champion, a youth icon, somebody to look up. And just like Baltimore’s slogan, “Get in on it”, there is no limit to reaching your dreams. Whatever you do, may it be aiming for a higher career or upgrading your life like buying your dream house:, life is full of possibilities.

As local Baltimore professionals we love hearing these success stories. You can find more details about our Baltimore services here:

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