50 Interesting Facts About Michael Phelps

Last updated on December 28th, 2020

Born in 1985 in Maryland, U.S., Michael Phelps is a former swimming champion who was known as the most-decorated Olympian. Throughout his glittering career, Michael Phelps managed to garner 28 Olympic medals, including 23 gold medals. With that in mind, here are 50 interesting facts about Michael Phelps that cover his childhood, education, swimming career, entrepreneurial mindset, and much more.

Childhood

1. He is the youngest among three children

Michael Phelps has two elder sisters, Hilary and Whitney, who played a significant role in molding him into a world-class swimmer by introducing him to swimming at a tender age, allowing him to accompany them to their swimming sessions.

2. He suffered from Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a child

Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children with ADHD typically tend to have high energy levels. To burn off some of Michael’s hyperactivity, his parents often took him swimming.

3. At first, he was afraid to put his head underwater

Michael started swimming when he was about 7 years old. Due to the fear of putting his head underwater, he first learned the backstroke swimming technique.

4. A snake in the backyard traumatized him to date

When he was young, Michael once lifted a rock in the backyard, only for a hissing snake to emerge from underneath. To date, he still talks about how traumatized he was and how he fears snakes.

At 15, Phelps became the youngest male swimmer to qualify for the American Olympic team since 1932, when he earned a trip to the 2000 Sydney Games.

Education

5. He went to Towson High School and later, Michigan University

Michael went to Dumbarton Middle School, Towson High School, and the University of Michigan. He later joined the North Baltimore Aquatic Club where he met his longtime swimming coach, Bowman.

6. He didn’t swim for the University of Michigan

By the time Michael enrolled in the University of Michigan, he had already received an endorsement as a professional swimmer and hence wouldn’t swim for them.

7. He struggled to pay attention in school

As an ADHD patient, Michael usually found himself in trouble in school due to his lack of focus. Thankfully, his family always supported and defended him in front of his teacher, who didn’t understand Michael’s concentration issues.

8. He studied Sports Marketing and Management

At the University of Michigan, Michael pursued Sports Marketing and Management but went along with participating in swimming competitions and practices.

Michael Phelps’ Swimming Career

9. He was the youngest ever swimmer to break a world record

Michael was about 15 years old when he broke the world record in swimming, becoming the youngest ever swimmer to break the record, a record which he holds to this day.

10. He hated swimming at first

Were it not for his athletic father and sisters who liked to swim, Michael would have probably taken another career path. This is because he didn’t like swimming at first, and only learned it for safety reasons.

Michael Phelps in the pool. facts about Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps wins Rio 2016 Olympic Games 200m butterfly swim. USA champion record holder swimmer scores another gold medal swimming competition at Aquatic Stadium. Michael Phelps facts. Image credit – Salty View

11. He was the oldest male swimmer to break a world record

On 9th August 2016, Michael became the oldest male swimmer to win an individual gold medal. However, four days later, the 35-year-old Anthony Ervin became the oldest swimmer in Olympic history to win a gold medal.

12. He holds 26 Guinness World Records

The medals he garnered throughout his swimming career secured him 26 positions in the Guinness World Records.

13. He practices cupping

Cupping is a Chinese traditional practice that involves placing cups on the skin to promote suction and enhance the healing of muscles and blood flow. It may also remove toxins from the body.

Michael Phelps with cup marks on his body.
Olympic champion Michael Phelps of United States competes at the Men’s 200m butterfly semifinal at Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. Interesting facts about Michael Phelps. Image credit – Leonard Zhukovsky

14. He has an extensive workout routine

Apart from swimming regularly, Michael also takes part in strength training, mostly focusing on developing his physique and strengthening his shoulder blades. He also wears a compression suit to promote faster healing after strength training.

15. One of the Baltimore streets has his name

After the 2004 summer Olympics, the city of Baltimore, which is Michael’s city of birth, named one of its streets Michael Phelps Way.

16. He became the most decorated Olympian at 27 years old

By the time he retired from swimming, Michael had won 23 gold medals, three silver medals, and two bronze medals. He entered the Guinness World Records as the most decorated Olympian.

17. He swam 50 miles every week in preparation for the 2008 summer Olympics

Michael’s hard work played a great role in establishing him as an elite swimmer, who dominated the sport for many years. For instance, in preparation for the Summer Olympics of 2008 in Beijing, he swam up to 80,000 meters per week.

18. He is the fifth richest Olympian athlete

His estimated net worth is about $80 million. Most of his earnings came from an endorsement by big brands, and this made him one of the richest Olympians.

19. He once broke his scaphoid bone

In 2007, Michael tripped and fell on his wrist, causing the scaphoid bone in his wrist to fracture. Although he thought this would mark the end of his career, his trainer assured him that the injury wouldn’t affect his career.

20. He earned a $1 million worth of bonus from Speedo

Michael won about 7 gold medals in one Olympics, and this prompted Speedo to give him a $1 million bonus, which he used to establish a foundation.

21. He retired temporarily

In 2012, Michael thought it was time for him to retire from swimming. However, he participated in other competitions up to 2016 when he retired for good.

Michaelp Phelps with other 100 m butterfly participants. Michael Phelps facts
Michael Phelps USA (L), Laszlo Cseh HUN,Joseph Schooling SGP and Chad le Clos RSA during medal ceremony after Men’s 100m butterfly of the Rio 2016 Olympics. Michael Phelps facts. Image credit – Leonard Zhukovsky

22. He also likes to play golf

When not in the pool, Michael enjoys playing golf as a hobby and is quite good at it, too. At the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Champions, for example, Michael sank a 153-foot putt, demonstrating his ability on the golf course.

23. He had vitamin D deficiency

Despite eating a lot, especially during practice, Michael still had vitamin D deficiency, forcing him to take vitamin D supplements.

24. He likes butterfly stroke

Despite first learning the backstroke swimming technique, Michael prefers the butterfly technique because it propels him faster. In fact, the butterfly stroke has won him numerous world records.

Business and Marketing Career

25. He retired from swimming and became an entrepreneur

In 2016, Michael participated in his last swimming competition. Today, Michael is an entrepreneur, focusing mostly on brand endorsement.

26. He owns a swimwear brand called MP

Michael’s passion for swimming inspired him to build a swimwear brand that deals with numerous designs, one of which he wore in Rio.

27. He owns an emoji app

Inspired by his swimming career, Michael developed an app that contains about 100 emojis. The app costs $1 and it majorly contains emojis portraying the swimming sport.

28. He has numerous sponsors

The tremendous sponsorship has helped Michael thrive not only in his career as a swimmer but also in his entrepreneurship journey. Some of the companies he’s dealt with include, among others, Omega, Aqua Sphere, and Under Armour.

Michael’s Personal Life and Family

29. He is a proud father

Michael has three sons whom he loves so much. When the firstborn son was young, he would ask for up to 30 photos of his baby per day in case he went out of town. The sons also attended some of Michael’s swimming practice sessions.

30. He married an American model

In 2016, Michael married Nichole Johnson Phelps, an American model and beauty queen. Nicole is a former Miss California, and has also contested in the Miss USA beauty pageant.

31. He has little contact with his father

After his parents divorced in the early ’90s, Michael went to live with his mother, Debbie, a middle school principal. To date, Michael has little contact with his biological father.

Michael Phelps with his mother Deborah.
Debbie & Michael Phelps attend fashion show for the Heart Truth Red Dress Collection 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom at Manhattan Center in Manhattan on February 08, 2012 in New York City, NY. Image credit – lev radin

32. Michael named his son, Boomer, after his coach

Because of the awesome relationship that Michael had with his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, he chose his son’s middle name, Robert, to honor the coach.

33. His father was also an athlete

Although he worked as a Maryland State trooper, Michael’s father, Fred Phelps, was also an all-around athlete who introduced his son to sports at a tender age. However, their relationship diminished after the divorce.

34. He reunited with his father in rehab

Since his parents’ divorce at nine years old, Michael never had a relationship with his father. However, despite not being in touch for many years, Michael did visit his father in rehab after his father was convicted of a DUI offense.

35. His son, Boomer, has a huge Instagram following

By the time Boomer was only three months old, he already had 258,000 followers on his Instagram account. His father’s fame greatly contributed to this. Today, he has close to 600K followers on the same social media platform. 

36. He enjoys carpool karaoke

Whenever he went on a break with his U.S. Olympic swim team, Michael would join the rest in some carpool karaoke jam session.

Philanthropy

37. He built a foundation to promote water safety

Michael founded the Michael Phelps Foundation in 2007, aiming to promote healthy living, water safety, and nurturing dreams. He helped thousands of kids to swim safely.

38. He Advocates for Children with Mental Health Issues

Based on his battle with mental health as a child, Michael decided to become a mental health activist. That’s why he wrote books titled “No Limits: The Will to Succeed” and “Beneath the Surface” to encourage other people through his own experiences.

39. He supports multiple charities

Apart from helping urban children through his foundation, Michael Phelps has also supported other charities, including, among others, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of America, and BID TO BEAT AIDS.

40. He is an informal counselor

Though retired from swimming, Michael occasionally counsels his close friends who are also swimming stars on how to navigate the swimming career, as reported by the New York Times (NYT).

10 Interesting/Fun Facts About Michael Phelps

41. He has multiple nick-names

Due to his swimming skills, Michael had nick-names such as MP, The Baltimore Bullet, Deep Sea Frog, and the Half-Man Half-Fish. While fans called him these names, his teammates named him Gomer.

42. He consumed 12,000 calories per day during the 2008 Olympics

The Calorie Control Council (CCC) recommends consuming 3000 calories per day for men. Surprisingly, Michael took a whopping 12,000 calories every day in the 2008 Olympics, probably because his body demanded a lot of energy.

Michael Phelps during Olympics. facts about Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps swims at Rio 2016 Olympic Games. USA american champion, record swimmer wins gold medal 200m butterfly swimming competition at Aquatic Stadium. Image credit – Salty View

43. He had a pre-race playlist

Before taking part in a swimming competition, he always listened to his favorite hip-hop playlist. It majorly consisted of Eminem, Eric Church, and Young Jeezy songs, although he later added some cool country music.

44. He admitted to peeing in the pool

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Michael confessed to occasionally peeing in the pool. He further said that urinating in the swimming pool was kind of a normal thing for swimmers.

. . . continue reading on the next page