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Michael Phelps showed no sign of letting up in his pursuit of breaking Mark Spitz's record for the most amount of medals won in one Olympic Games.

First he romped home in the 200m butterfly in a new world-record time.

He gave all swimmers around the world hope when he moaned he couldn't see down the last 100m due to his goggles filling up with water!

This is usually only a problem that faces young swimmers at club level. I'm just thankful he didn't stop and look for the lifeguard to tighten the strap.

And then there was the 4x200m relay - if ever there was one of his gold medal opportunities that was nailed on, it was in this race.

With such strong middle distance team-mates the world record always looked under threat. However, to break the magic barrier of 7.00 minutes was simply phenomenal.

Lets take a look at what makes Phelps so special:

Long torso

All swimmers look pretty much the same when in their swimming suits but if you take time to truly weigh up Phelps' physique he looks almost like a cartoon character.

If you were guessing his height from looking at his legs, you would more than likely say less than six foot. Switch your gaze to his freakishly long torso and you you probably say he would be more like a 6ft 8in!

The issue most people have with swimming is the legs drag through the water and in many instances can slow them down. His long torso and short legs reduce this drag and allow for maximum propulsion.

Wing span

Just like most people have a shoe size that is the same length as the distance from their wrist to the elbow, we all generally have a wingspan that is similar to our height.

Michael Phelps' wingspan based on his height should be around 196cm. His actual wingspan is 208cm and this provides perfect levers for him to pull himself through the water.

Low body fat

When Phelps steps out the water after one of his final swims you can generally see what he had for breakfast! It would seem there is no fat on him at all and at a guess I would say it was around 4% and obviously based on power to weight ratio this allows him to maximise his effort into speed.

Michael Phelps

I'm sure if you checked any doctor's chart a 6ft 4ins, 83kg man would definitely be seriously underweight.

When trying to win Olympic gold medals it works fairly well!

Power of recovery

All athletes produce lactic acid when their aerobic system can no longer keep up with producing the amount of energy required to perform.

As a matter of course all swimmers need to swim down to get rid off this 'acid' so they are ready to perform at their potential the next time they race.

Phelps has extraordinary powers of recovery; as well as not producing usual levels of lactic acid he also needs only minimal recovery before he is ready to go again.

On Tuesday he swam a sensational race in the 200m freestyle - and was back in the pool moments after the medal ceremony for the 200m butterfly heats.

"In between the 200m free and the fly heats I have probably had in total about 10 minutes to myself," he told to US TV. That takes phenomenal mental focus too.

Tools of the trade

With large hands and size 14 feet he has all the right equipment to swim super fast. Without these paddles and fins to get him through the water he would not be equipped to make an assault on all the world records.

Mindset

Similar to Tiger Woods this man just does not know how to quit.

With 11 Olympic gold medals to his name already and a possible three more up for grabs in Beijing plus a similar medal assault in London could Michael Phelps not only end up being the greatest Olympian in history but also the greatest sportsman ever?

Steve Parry is a former Olympic medallist. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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  • 1. At 12:33pm on 13 Aug 2008, woolloomoolooinoz wrote:

    If Michael achieves what he has set himself out to do in Beijing, then what is left for him?

    Looking at the stats also of the American swim team, I fear they are falling into the same hole that the Australian male team did. Unwittingly the team starts to rely on one person to bring home the bacon. The Australians did it to Ian Thorpe and when he retired, there was only Grant hackett left to swim comparably with the rest of the world. If you take Michael out of the current team USA's equation you will see that so far they have only one gold medal in the pool - Aaron peirsol, and possibly one gold medal from their 4 x 200 mens freestyle relay from the men, and this is halfway through the meet. They have only one silver medal and that was also in the same event that Aaron Peirsol took the gold. So where are all their other men swimmers? I often wonder how one can train and train day in day out month in month out year in year out if all you are going to achieve at the end is a silver medal behind Michael Phelps. Perhaps inadvertantly michael has scared off some of his own countryman to become olympians to stand on the podium and take a gold.

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  • 2. At 12:49pm on 13 Aug 2008, Athrawes wrote:

    I am astonished by how negative Sharon Davies has been towards our swimmers and divers. For goodness sakes, they are Olympians!! They have been so upbeat, so..."hey, we're 8th in the WORLD!" and positive about taking part and being supportive of their team mates and all she can come out with is "You can do better than that, what went wrong". The swim team have totally embraced the Olympic spirit - Sharon needs to do so too.

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  • 3. At 12:50pm on 13 Aug 2008, aendr wrote:

    Everyone seems to be forgetting that a British female athlete got her 11th gold in the 2004 games.

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  • 4. At 12:54pm on 13 Aug 2008, acotgreave wrote:

    Will this high number of medals make him the greatest sportsman ever?

    No, of course not. He is fortunate to be in a sport where it is possible to compete in many many events in one Olympics.

    Sure, he is arguably one of the greatest swimmers of all time, but you can't use medal tallies as an indication of the greatest every sportsman/woman.

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  • 5. At 1:01pm on 13 Aug 2008, 1welshbloke wrote:

    The constant adulation of Phelps by the BBC is pathetic - OFFICIALLY THE GREATEST OLYMPIAN. Really? On what basis? Sure he has the most Gold medals - so yes he has the greatest number of Olympic victories but greatest Olympian? And what makes it official - I didn't realise the IOC had an OFFICIALLY THE GREATEST category!

    What about Redgrave? Zatopek's feat of 5000, 10000 and marathon in the space of 8 days. Paavo Nurmi over three games, to name but a few.

    Come on BBC - tone it down and get rid of the cardboard cutout at the same time.

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  • 6. At 1:10pm on 13 Aug 2008, sumithar wrote:

    He can't be the greatest sportsman of all time- that is comparing apples to oranges. If there were events like running backwards and running while flapping your hands wildly, who knows Carl Lewis might have won as many golds too.

    Also Phelps competes in swimming where the talent pool (pun unintended) is significantly smaller than athletics- swimming still remains an elite sport. After all what are there more of? Places to run or swimming pools?

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  • 7. At 1:25pm on 13 Aug 2008, DjDanny32 wrote:

    Can we stop comparing Phelps to Tiger Woods please?!

    Phelps is an elite athlete at the top of his game. Tiger Woods hits a little ball around and then slowly walks after it.

    There is just no comparison.

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  • 8. At 1:26pm on 13 Aug 2008, hameau02 wrote:

    I think one or two of the above comments are a tad unfair on Phelps. Yes, he competes in a sport where it is possible to win multiple gold medals unlike, for example, rowing or sailing. However, that cannot disguise the fact that what he has done so far - whether he gets 8 golds or not - is simply incredible. Bearing in mind the short recovery time between events, a la Zapotek although obviously far shorter distance, and the fact that every gold thus far has been achieved with a world record he has been nothing short of sensational. It may not be possible to make a direct comparison between Phelps and Lewis or any of the other great Olympians but that does not detract in any way from Phelps' achievements and is entirely right that the BBC should continue to sing his praises.

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  • 9. At 1:26pm on 13 Aug 2008, princesstiggrr wrote:

    In response to the last comment. I am a County level swimmer and I find your comments VERY narrow minded.

    We have very few pools like you say which makes it even harder to compete on a level playing field on the world stage. I would also like to point out that swimming gets a LOT less funding than athletics.

    Are you saying that swimmers are only as talented as someone running backwards flapping their hands?

    I am so proud of our British Team the improvement after Bill Sweetman took over and beyond has been immense and I look forward to even more success in 2012.

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  • 10. At 1:30pm on 13 Aug 2008, jamesscotland wrote:

    "I'm sure if you checked any doctor's chart a 6ft 4ins, 83kg man would definitely be seriously underweight."

    Surely not? By my calculations, that works out as a BMI (body mass index) of 22.5, which is well within the "normal" range.

    Of course, Phelps' body will be anything but normal (one of the reasons why BMI calculations are nonsensical for athletes): his body fat percentage will, as you suggest, be ridiculously low compared to an average male; at the same time, he will be carrying much more muscle. But 83kg is certainly not "seriously underweight" for his height!

    (http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/magazine/interactive/bmi/index.aspx for a BMI calculator if anyone wants to check my - very possibly inaccurate - calculation.)

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  • 11. At 1:33pm on 13 Aug 2008, hermannredux wrote:

    One comment about the article:

    "Phelps has extraordinary powers of recovery; as well as not producing usual levels of lactic acid he also needs only minimal recovery before he is ready to go again."

    You explain virtually every other factor in his success, but the above paragraph is rather slim.
    I'm sure what the average punter would like to know, not to mention all the swimmer left in Michael's wake, is exactly how he manages not to produce "usual" levels of lactic acid, and exactly why he only needs "minimal" recovery time.

    Because let's face it, if we had the answers to those questions there would be a whole lot of Michael Phelpses out there...

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  • 12. At 1:37pm on 13 Aug 2008, Nathan wrote:

    Michael Phelps is now unquestionably the greatest swimmer of al time however to say he is the greatest olympian of all is frankly misguided and ignorant.

    He may have the most medals and his dominance across a range of strokes is impressive however in his sport there are many more events which he can compete in! If Carl Lewis/Jesse Owens/Paavo Nurmi/Steve Redgrave had as many different events they could have entered I'm sure they would have had many more medals so medal count isn't by any means conclusive.

    The reason so many other athletes (including Mark Spitz) rank Steve Redgrave as the greatest olympian ever is because he was able to maintain his position as the best over not one or two games but five, an acheivement I'm not sure will ever be seen again.

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  • 13. At 1:37pm on 13 Aug 2008, Philius1976 wrote:

    there is only one person on this earth with more gold round his neck than Phelps, and that is the legend . . . . . . . . MR T

    I pity the fool

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  • 14. At 1:43pm on 13 Aug 2008, ArnoldLeeuw wrote:

    I agree that Mr Parry is getting a bit too far ahead of himself wanting to rate sportspeople as the greatest whatever but then again it's a thing the media love to do and almost like a race to be the 1st to say / write it.
    Every sport has it's own challenges so comparisons between sports is like politics - there will be no agreement. Even comparisons within sports is dificult due to differences in circumstances. Nonetheless Phelps' achievements SO FAR have been nothing short of phenomenal which brings me to the point of the one thing that Mr Parry failed to include in his assessment of "what makes Phelps so special" is his training regime. I don't know it myself and will be interested to know but I will be surprised if there is another swimmer out there who trains harder.

    Finally I am also very interested to know who was the British female athlete to have won her 11th gold in the 2004 games?

    Swim for 20 Phelps.

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  • 15. At 1:48pm on 13 Aug 2008, hellkarita wrote:

    Is anyone else getting just a little bit tired of hearing Phelps' name being mentioned all the time? I was listening to a swimming heat (which Phelps wasn't even in) in the kitchen, while the TV was on in the living room, and must have heard his name at least 6 times, when there were loads of swimmers in the current heat not even getting a mention.

    I'm not saying he hasn't done wonderfully - he has. He's really astounded me in the Olympics, but please! Enough! There are other swimmers around besides him.

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  • 16. At 1:57pm on 13 Aug 2008, adctroy wrote:

    It is quite wrong to classify Phelps as the greatest Olympian. This classification seems to be based solely on medals won. Swimming is unique amongst the sports in that one person can win so many medals because of being able to participate in so many events. Many, myself included, would say that this is a fundamental flaw of this sport.
    Would you really say that he is greater than, for instance, Redgrave or any other multiple medal winner who is only able to participate in one event because of the structure of their chosen sport.

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  • 17. At 1:57pm on 13 Aug 2008, TheDuffManUK wrote:

    can people stop putting carl lewis' name in this he tested positive on drugs test before the 1988 games, that's make him a cheat

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  • 18. At 2:00pm on 13 Aug 2008, eeldarb wrote:

    Granted Phelps is indeed the greated Olympian, no doubt about that, but surely dont all the other hard workers deserved something out of this. For Phelps to say he wants to win 7 Gold medals, I'm sure the other contestants would be happy to win 1.

    Bit selfish I think.

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  • 19. At 2:01pm on 13 Aug 2008, dgwsoft wrote:

    "I'm sure if you checked any doctor's chart a 6ft 4ins, 83kg man would definitely be seriously underweight"

    In fact if you plug in the numbers (e.g. here: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/bmi_tbl.htm) that equates to a BMI (body mass index) of 22 - towards the upper end of the 'normal weight' range!

    Though all this shows is that BMI tends to overestimate body fat for people of above average height, and for muscular athletes.

    Something to remember, if you are in either of these categories, the next time your doctor tries to put you on a diet!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_mass_index#Limitations_and_shortcomings

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  • 20. At 2:04pm on 13 Aug 2008, PSU_Fan wrote:

    It's impossible to compare any sports. All are completely different. Saying Steve Redgrave is the best olympian ever, is impossible to quanitfy also, as although an amazing achievement it was to win 5 golds at 5 consecutive olympics, how many other sports could you possibly still expect to be anywhere near the top of, other than rowing? could a footballer / rugby player be as high a level athlete at the age of 19, through to 44 years old? no. could a marathon runner? no. could a gymnast? no. could a swimmer? no. a judo player? no. the attributes needed for each sport are not comparable. to try to do so is pointless.
    for those arguing that in other sports there aren't enough disciplines to even try to compete with Phelp's medal haul is not strictly true either........swimming different strokes, and different distances is no different than running different distances, if you want to be so narrow-minded as the man who talked about running backwards whilst flapping your arms around.
    michael johnson won the 200m, the 400m and the 400m relay. he couldve easily been part of a winning 4x100m relay team......could he run 800m? could he do the long jump as carl lewis did? i agree would mean he would have to be a very very adaptable athlete, but any less so than Phelps? swimming every stroke, at distances between 100m, and 400m?
    basically, it is an impossible argument, but the fact remains, many have had the opportunity to do what Phelps has before, and not done it, so what he is doing is truely amazing.

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  • 21. At 2:05pm on 13 Aug 2008, whyshin wrote:

    in south korea we call him phelfish...some say it's unfair to let a member of the finny tribe to compete with humans...others say they found themselves unconsciously reaching for a fishing rod while they were watching him swimming...truly talented, and undoubtedly very disciplined, amazing athlete he is.

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  • 22. At 2:07pm on 13 Aug 2008, Mr_Grebo wrote:

    ArnoldLeeuw, the British female athlete is Tanni Grey-Thompson.

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  • 23. At 2:08pm on 13 Aug 2008, specktor wrote:

    How does Mr Phelps decide which races to enter? – he could in theory get more golds, lazy boy!
    For example he is not entered for the 100m fly, but he does swim it in the relay and the same with breast and back and he is not entered for the 50m fly. He can obviously do all the strokes and I can see how one can suit short or long distances but he seems to cover all of the shorter distances in some form.
    I have looked at the calendar and there does not seem to be a clash of finals – is it timing? Is there an established order of preference for events? Is it to concentrate on “blue ribbon” events?
    Cheers

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  • 24. At 2:14pm on 13 Aug 2008, scepticmonkey wrote:

    If I was the GB coach, I would ask to have the pool measured.

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  • 25. At 2:15pm on 13 Aug 2008, dime666 wrote:

    I still do not understand why Redgrave is considered by some as the 'greatest Olympian'.

    He rowed with three others in a sport that is quite exclusive to some countries whose population genetics (see China weightlifting etc.) and in terms of geography suit it.

    If we were to rank Olympians I'd look at firstly how competitive the sport is. I mean if cricket was one of the sports played, being first out of 7 countries is not much of an achievement. As well as the competitiveness in terms of countries I'd also analyse the sport itself and the number of sportsmen entered.

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  • 26. At 2:15pm on 13 Aug 2008, Fionavroom wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 27. At 2:16pm on 13 Aug 2008, nonamesleft2000 wrote:

    It’s getting a bit tedious hearing about Phelps all the time. The greatest sportsman tag is way over the top simply because of the number of events he is able to compete in - as many others have said here before. The cardboard cut out the BBC have been using is lame and the joke has well and truly worn off. That said he is still a fantastic athlete.
    The media like to get excited and wet their pants over this type of thing. I don't think he's particularly charismatic though (from what I've seen so far) and swimming is just not as exciting a spectator sport as some others (my opinion of course but I'm sure one that many others share, no matter how excited Adrian Moorehouse gets). ....cue the barrage from Phelps/Swimming fans

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  • 28. At 2:24pm on 13 Aug 2008, i_amSuspicious wrote:

    When discussing Phelps' physiology, mention has been made of his long torso, low body fat, wing span etc. However, no comment has been made concerning his large jaw (note the distance from his lower lip to the base of his chin).

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  • 29. At 2:25pm on 13 Aug 2008, Limeyatthebeach wrote:

    Mr Grebo, with all respect to Tanni Grey-Thompson...He's going to have more golds than her too so who cares. Phelps is definately a great athlete, Olympian, team mate and apperas to be a quality person. In this age of sporting brats and "slaves" it's good to see someone who can still get it done the right way.

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  • 30. At 2:31pm on 13 Aug 2008, IOM_RAM wrote:

    I would very much doubt that his body fat percentage is 4 as that would be extremely unhealthy!

    In fact, competition swimmers supposedly have a slightly higher body fat percentage than other elite athletes.

    As said, BMI is rubbish for anybody who has anything more than basic muscle.

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  • 31. At 2:41pm on 13 Aug 2008, swsquires wrote:

    One also has to remember when talking about the number of events in so few days that swimming is a non-impact sport and thus has a very different effect on your muscles and joints than something like running.

    What I do find interesting though is that in pretty much any other sport where records are being broken left, right and centre people would be getting suspicious and suggesting that illegal substances are playing a part. As someone who doesn't follow swimming regularly I don't know whether this sport has such problems, whether the new swim suits they are wearing are making a huge difference, or something else...?

    I do agree though with others about the whole greatest Olympian ever rubbish. In a sport where you can compete in multiple events is is just silly to compare it to others. Yes, what he is doing is amazing, but then others in Olympic history have virtually come off the street from a country with minimal facilites and got medals. To me they are every bit as amazing as an American who has the correct physiology and fantastic facilites at his disposal.

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  • 32. At 2:43pm on 13 Aug 2008, GildasSapiens wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 33. At 2:44pm on 13 Aug 2008, Luke wrote:

    4% body fat! hahaha

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  • 34. At 2:45pm on 13 Aug 2008, sportsnut59 wrote:

    How does Mr Phelps decide which races to enter? ? he could in theory get more golds, lazy boy!
    For example he is not entered for the 100m fly, but he does swim it in the relay and the same with breast and back and he is not entered for the 50m fly. He can obviously do all the strokes and I can see how one can suit short or long distances but he seems to cover all of the shorter distances in some form.
    I have looked at the calendar and there does not seem to be a clash of finals ? is it timing? Is there an established order of preference for events? Is it to concentrate on ?blue ribbon? events?

    You seem a little confused! Phelps is entered for the 100m fly and will have to get to the wall ahead of his teammate Ian Crocker if he wants to win that particular gold. Also he is not entered for the 50m fly because there isn't one!

    You don't just pick and choose what you might like to enter, you have to finish 1st or 2nd in the US trials to be selected for an individual event at the games. The US swimming coaches can pick from the team in Beijing who will compete in the relays.

    Oh and it is Blue Riband - not Blue Ribbon!

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  • 35. At 2:45pm on 13 Aug 2008, virgins are special wrote:

    This is simple.
    Those who have a background in swimming themselves can understand why Phelps is so amazing, and why he can indeed be called the greatest Olympian ever.
    Those who don't, can't.

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  • 36. At 2:46pm on 13 Aug 2008, adctroy wrote:

    Come on BBC cut out this 'officially the greatest olympian of all time' .......... as has already been said only the number of medals form the basis for this statement. The greatest swimmer maybe ....... but beyond that ....... well read the blogs, its mainly down to opinion.

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  • 37. At 2:52pm on 13 Aug 2008, falovalova wrote:

    It's a bit sad to see some people suggesting that Phelp's efforts have been anything but of his own making. Until proved otherwise those people should keep quiet and let the rest of us just enjoy the races.

    That is of course your one of the people bored of hearing about him, my question to you would be, if your bored of hearing his name all the time then why then come online and read an article about him?

    One of the true great sportsmen of all time, I've really enjoyed the swimming so far because of him

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  • 38. At 2:53pm on 13 Aug 2008, oglidewell wrote:

    When he wins gold in 2020, then he can match up to Redgrave.

    Phelps is by far the greatest swimmer NOW, but true greatness come from being abel to beat everyone over a long period. Redgrave did that, Phelps hasn't. I'm not saying he won't, and I'm certainly not saying he's an amazing athlete. It's just too soon to laud him as "Greatest Ever" just yey.

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  • 39. At 2:54pm on 13 Aug 2008, trooowenso wrote:

    Clearly not many of you have ever competitively swam before. Its sad to see how unimpressed many of you are with such extraordinary feats.
    I believe Phelps making that many medals in a game isn't to be criticized but respected. Do any of you know how physically draining one race can be let alone three or four in a row with an hour time apart? I'd like to see any runner compete in four races in a row. Or any other athlete. And I'm sorry
    "Also Phelps competes in swimming where the talent pool (pun unintended) is significantly smaller than athletics- swimming still remains an elite sport." Have you been to a national swim meet lately? The talent is incredible. How can you dismiss swimming as easy? Running is much more of a natural body movement than swimming is. A swimmer is doing somewhat unnatural movements in the water which is why Phelps swims twice a day probably doing about 20,000 meters. at the minimum. In addition, the fact that Phelps can be the best in more than one swimming stroke is amazing. Again, if you don't know much about swimming than you probably don't realize that.

    And yes, average athletes might be wondering how Phelps is doing it because they are AVERAGE. The Olympics is for the exceptional athlete. That's why it is the OLYMPICS.

    I do agree that other swimmers at the Olympics need to be given more publicity.

    Honestly, people anyone who is unamazed by Phelps' performance needs to jump in the pool and try to swim a 200 butterfly in long course. Then they can talk the swim. Phelps DESERVES respect. Receiving one gold medal is an unbelievable accomplishment. We are the ones who have become jaded to his abilities. There can be no doubt that he is ONE of the most talented athletes of ALL TIME.

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  • 40. At 2:55pm on 13 Aug 2008, 02warburton wrote:

    On the greatest olympian front I'd like to say my personal opinion of a great olympian are those who successfully compete in Triathlons etc.

    They can master multiple olympic events and are a 'jack-of-all trades'.

    Phelps is dominant in swimming but there are plenty of athletes who have trained to do multiple events and i would say they are the greatest olympians and not necessarily Phelps or any other who 'specializes' in one olympic event/sport

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  • 41. At 2:57pm on 13 Aug 2008, Pollyk wrote:

    What's a Wing Span? Doesn't he have arms like everyone else, or do all swimmers now wear those ridiculous suits so they don't have to pluck their own feathers?

    Poll

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  • 42. At 2:58pm on 13 Aug 2008, Harry May wrote:

    I think Steve Barry is way of the mark if he thinks Phelps' body fat is 'around 4%'. Yes he is lean and 'ripped', but 8 - 12% would be a more realistic figure.

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  • 43. At 3:00pm on 13 Aug 2008, downstream wrote:

    "I'm sure if you checked any doctor's chart a 6ft 4ins, 83kg man would definitely be seriously underweight."

    83kgs is actually in the upper section of "OK" on these charts. The supposed "ideal" weight for someone whos 6ft 4ins is about 74kgs. So he isn't "definitely be seriously underweight"

    You can see a copy of the chart here http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/bigimages/heightweightfull.jpg

    As others have said, these standard charts and BMI don't apply to him though.

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  • 44. At 3:02pm on 13 Aug 2008, Jim-bob-jim wrote:

    Phelps is a fantastic athlete, no-one can deny it but he is not the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. Why? Because he is a swimmer and the majority of the world population don’t even know how to swim let alone have the facilities to train to his level. That’s why one athlete can be so supreme at that sport, because not that many people do it. You will never get a track athlete in this day and age that will dominate so much i.e. win all the track events because everybody runs and most countries around the world have track and field training facilities, so the best in the world, actually are the best in the world

    The same goes for Tanni Grey Thompson, yes she has won lots of medals and holds a ridiculous amount of world records but how many people are wheelchair bound, young and have the facilities to train. If everyone was in a wheelchair Tanni probably wouldn’t have been good enough to make the UK team. Nor is it Steven Redgrave, best of the three but he had 3men helping for most and always at least 1.

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  • 45. At 3:03pm on 13 Aug 2008, virgins are special wrote:

    To the guy who basically wrote running is a harder sport to compete in that swimming - I'm afraid you're misinformed.
    I trained swimming for 2 hours daily from 12 - 16 years old. That amount of training got me to a level where I would compete for my county. I was also 1500m and cross-country champion for this same county - amount of running training required - zero.
    Phelps is outstanding.

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  • 46. At 3:09pm on 13 Aug 2008, specialistnce21 wrote:

    aendr the paralympics is a separate event from the olympics. Tanni Grey- Thompson is an amazing athlete but she's not go an olympic medal (not counting demonstration events)

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  • 47. At 3:09pm on 13 Aug 2008, NouManor wrote:

    In a nutshell, what you're driving at is that the poor man is a freak.

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  • 48. At 3:14pm on 13 Aug 2008, porchos wrote:

    If one person can win so many medals then clearly there are too many swimming events which are too similar.

    In athletics you will get an athlete winning perhaps two golds (100m + 200m, 400 +800 etc, or a combination), but rarely more in one games. It takes a different approach and training regime to win the marathon or the 100m. And the level of exhaustion must also play a part.

    But in swimming it seems that one approach suits many events.

    Time for a rethink, perhaps.

    At least swimming is not blighted by different categories within it, like boxing, weightlifting, judo etc.

    Of course, this isn't to say that Phelps is a fantastic athlete. But he's competeing in a favourable discipling which allows him to win a lot of gold.

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  • 49. At 3:15pm on 13 Aug 2008, nikhgs wrote:

    I was considering a similar argument the other day - who is the greatest sports person of all time and i came to the conclusion whoever it is would have to come from a sport which is the most accessible to all. There can only be one sport which fulfills this criteria and that is athletics. It is the most natural of all movements and something that can be done vrtually from birth and at any corner of the earth. No special skills or equiptment are needed, nor a specific landscape or geographical loaction and it is a common denominator amongst many sports. From a very early age you know whether you can run fast or jump a long way - ask any kid in any playground and they will be able to tell you who the fastest runner in the school is. Therefore as sure as one can be, the current 100m record holder is the fastest person on the planet but is Mr Phelps the fastest swimmer in the world? - has everyone on this planet tested themselves in terms of how fast they can swim? I would think not. Similarly how many people have jumped in a rowing boat to see how fast they can row? Even football, one of the worlds most popular sports - are the current world class players truley the greatest players in the world or are there others who could be better but have never had the opportunity to kick a ball. Everyone can run and everyone knows how fast they are and for that reason the greatest olympian of all time must belong to athletics.

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  • 50. At 3:15pm on 13 Aug 2008, Pollyk wrote:

    RE: 39 "And yes, average athletes might be wondering how Phelps is doing it because they are AVERAGE. The Olympics is for the exceptional athlete. That's why it is the OLYMPICS."

    I thought the Olympics were supposed to be for everybody.

    Personally, I get more enjoyment of performances like the following;

    SYDNEY, Australia — The Olympics
    Eric Moussambani, a swimmer from the central African nation of Equatorial Guinea who had only learned to swim nine months earlier and who had never competed in an indoor 50-meter pool before.
    Moussambani swam alone in his Tuesday heat of the men's 100 meters, since the other two scheduled in the heat — opponents from Niger and Tajikistan — had been disqualified because of false starts.
    For the record, Moussambani's time in the 100 was longer than what Australia's Ian Thorpe posted in the men's 200 meters. But Moussambani already has earned offers of free new-design, body-length swimsuits from swimwear manufacturers.
    Said Thorpe of Moussambani: "I saw it on TV like everyone else, and that was quite amazing — the cheer that he got swimming that race, that was quite incredible. That's what the Olympics are all about — athletes from around the world having the opportunity to swim at the biggest event that there is."

    Now that was true class
    Poll

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  • 51. At 3:18pm on 13 Aug 2008, Admag1 (NFFC) wrote:

    To use an American term, he is the 'winningest' Olympian in history, but the greatest?

    Swimming offers so many more medals than Athletics, Rowing etc so it is too difficult to compare the achievement.

    A top track athlete will win three golds at the most from one games (Marion Jones once went for five in Sydney I recall, but I suppose that's a different story altogether).

    Redgrave 'only' won five golds in his career, but obviously they were in five games. In my opinion, that is a greater accomplishment than Phelps' 11 in two games, given the sheer number of events in the pool.

    That said, people have said it is easier to get medals in Swimming, but I don't see anybody else coming close to winning multiple medals, never mind five, maybe more, golds.

    So I say give Phelps the credit he so clearly deserves, but I think people should not subsitiute quantity of medals for 'legend' status. After all, any Olympic medal of any colour is the highlight of many careers.

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  • 52. At 3:20pm on 13 Aug 2008, SotonBlogger wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 53. At 3:24pm on 13 Aug 2008, stwl wrote:

    I wouldn't say Redgrave's accomplishment was greater than Phelps's, but would agree that comparisons between sports are iffy. Multiple medals in swimming are a sign of some versatility, but not comparable to that of a decathlete. On the other hand, most decathletes aren't world-class in any single event, never mind Olympic champions.

    FWIW, I would nominate Vitaly Scherbo as perhaps the greatest Olympian.

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  • 54. At 3:27pm on 13 Aug 2008, GL-girl wrote:

    Phelps is fantastic...maybe too good to be true? 2-4 seconds ahead of world and olympic records? We 've seen previous 'greatest olympians' turned out to be cheats before...
    I am also tired of hearing his name all the time, there are so many other great swimmers. Yes he has won the most gold medals but that doesn't make him the greatest olympian!!!

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  • 55. At 3:32pm on 13 Aug 2008, AussieInDubs wrote:

    If Britain were a force in world swimming I think there would be far less people here knocking Phelps’ achievement so far. It seems like sour grapes to me.

    Redgrave competed in a team sport, and in only 1 event – this allowed him to completely focus on one thing. Phelps has had to contend with numerous heats and semis in a short space of time, different strokes, and the different mental challenges of competing both as an individual and as part of a team in the relays.

    He’s the best ever. End of.

    Now, can we all get back to slagging of that poision dwarf, Tom Daley??

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  • 56. At 3:36pm on 13 Aug 2008, rseman wrote:

    dime666 - you are missing the point why Redgrave is rated so highly. Firstly he was part of a team that won Britain its first Olympic rowing gold since 1948.

    Secondly rowing is a far more demanding sport physically than swimming - you burn a lot more calories.

    Thirdly as someone who has done some rowing I can tell you now that it is a very technical sport. The idea that it is merely the case of jumping in a boat and pulling hard is nonsense. You ahve to be technically good.

    He has won 5 Olympic golds and a Bronze - plus 9 World Champ golds (2 silvers, 1 Bronze), 3 Commonwealth Games golds in an endurance sport. Championship races are over 2000m - which is more than Phelps has to do in a race.

    Redgrave and Pinsent still hold some GB rowing team gym records - despite the fact that they have been retired 8 and 4 years respectively.

    Because of the endurance issue and also the schedule it is nigh on impossible to double up in rowing. Only Pinsent and Cracknell at the 2001 World Champs have managed to do this (coxed and coxless pairs). The one time Redgrave tried it at the Olympics (Seoul 1988) he still won a Bronze to go with a gold.

    I don't think Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time (yet) - to be that I think he needs to break Mark Spitz's record of 7 golds in one games - as well as winning a few more in London in 2012.

    Is Redgrave the greatest? Debatable but he won his medals in a sport which does not really allow for people to successfully double up. Also he won a gold at evey Olympics he entered - Phelps has not - he won nothing in 2000 - despite being a world record holder (albeit he was 15!) Redgrave is one of the all time greats - as is Phelps. It is hard to judge athletes across different sports and say who is the best.

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  • 57. At 3:37pm on 13 Aug 2008, celltechabuser wrote:

    its ridiculous to suggest michael phelps is 4% bodyfat, any bodybuilder will tell you that. He's more likely around 9% bodyfat, a long shot away from your estimate

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  • 58. At 3:38pm on 13 Aug 2008, ajdunc1 wrote:

    If you go to Mr Phelp's own web site it tells you that he weighs 195 lbs in old money so in kg's this is 89 - i.e. 10 lbs or 5 kg more than stated by the BBC.

    If an Athlete wishes to reduce lactic acid in his system then he needs to consume Creatiine. This drastically reduces the burning ache produced by the body after a heavy training session.

    I know this from personal experience and it is perfectly legal to use it. Extensive use can lead to Liver problems.

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  • 59. At 3:41pm on 13 Aug 2008, griff_1000 wrote:

    I don't think there's much argument that Phelps is perhaps the greatest swimmer of all time (so far)!

    Can I just ask though, WHY are there so many different swimming events...? Athletics doesn't have the 'hundred metres running backwards race', the 'two hundred metres three legged race' or the 'fifteen hundred metres wheelbarrow race' (I'd LOVE to see that one!). It's just simple - for any given distance, who can cover the ground the quickest in any way they want to. Why isn't swimming the same? Is there ANY reason in the world that anyone would want to swim Butterfly, if it wasn't an event on it's own? Get rid of breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly... just leave the freestyle and make it really free, so that anyone can swim any stroke they want. I bet they'd all do front crawl...

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  • 60. At 3:41pm on 13 Aug 2008, fear_my_googly wrote:

    Hang on, aren't they all wearing the new Speedo LZR racesuit? The one that is supposed to knock seconds off your normal time anyway? Even the GB swimming team are taking 4 seconds out of their national records. Now something must be good about the LZR!

    These aren't really records, they are just transition times to a new era of swimming technology. Yes Phelps does have an extra bonus because of his genetics, nobody can argue that point. But let's just wait and see. He's the best ever swimmer, yes, but the best ever Olympian? I don't think so. There's more to being the best than doing the same thing eight times. If people think Phelps is the best then I think decatheletes should get 10 medals, triathletes 3 medals etc.

    Remember kids, if you want to be a good swimmer, you have to think like a fish.

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  • 61. At 3:44pm on 13 Aug 2008, anatheistani wrote:

    Surely this infers that the only reason Phelps is winning numerous gold medals is because he's simply toned up an abnormal body from birth. This then is an unfair advantage, similar to the bone structure of a negroid for running.
    In my view the points system is flawed. An exaggerated example being;-
    Let's say there's a 1,2,3,4, and a 500mts freestyle. It's inevitable that any abnormaly exeptional swimmer will almost certainly win 3 of these. A swimmer who wins a 400mt race by say 3lths. would be that far ahead in a 500lth. event. Hence hogging most golds, to the disadvantage of other competitors.

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  • 62. At 3:46pm on 13 Aug 2008, TreeHoose wrote:

    With all this chat of Greatest Olympians, there has been talk of Athletics events being too diverse, Tri-Athletes being best, Swimmers being able to enter too many events etc etc.

    What surprises me is that there is no mention of Decathletes. The decathlon is the most punishing Olympic event going. Just finishing it is a massive achievement at any level.

    Daley Thompson was possibly one of the greatest decathletes of all time (if not THE greatest), and also has 2 Olympic golds. I'm not saying he is the greatest Olympian of all time, just throwing this event into the mix...

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  • 63. At 3:49pm on 13 Aug 2008, mumbleypeg wrote:

    Fear not. Phelps will appear on a box of
    Wheeties, appear in fashion magazines,
    nail his medals to a wall, and do motivational speechs. Or run for govenor
    and grow thick on beer. Alas, he may never go away. Perhaps become a color commentator or get busted. Not a good future for a guy who runs backwards, flapping his hands.

    Beware, jealousy is secretly coveting what you can't have.

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  • 64. At 3:53pm on 13 Aug 2008, virgins are special wrote:

    griff1000 - they can do anything they want for freestyle, including any of your silly suggestions. Don't argue on something you know nothing about.

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  • 65. At 3:57pm on 13 Aug 2008, Limeyatthebeach wrote:

    rseman I think YOU are missing some facts. He was not the world record holder in 2000 at the Olympics, he broke that world record at 15 about 6 months later. Also if he breaks Spitz's record of 7 golds in one games this year why would he have to win more golds in London to be better than Spitz. Finally if you total what Phelps will swim competitively this Olympics it's about 4,000m...not to mention the warm ups and downs. All in he is swimming in the region of 4-5 miles a day. Redgrave and Phelps compete in non comparable sports, end of.

    Just give the guy the credit he is due for a truely once in a lifetime performance...I am encouraging my kids to watch him as we may never see the likes of this again, much in the same way I encourage them to watch Tiger play in the majors. In no way comparing Phelps to Tiger but I so enjoy watching athletes who are the best ever at what they are doing.

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  • 66. At 3:59pm on 13 Aug 2008, griff_1000 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 67. At 4:00pm on 13 Aug 2008, porchos wrote:

    Agree with post 62.

    I would like to think that the era of the specialist athlete is over.

    The decathalon type of thing is the way to go, in all sports. Sports such as basketball and rugby can only be played by either tall or large people. It's a pity to exclude so many of us mortals from these as however talented we are we will never get anywhere.

    In this way, soccer is a good sport. You have to be talented but an average physical shape to do well. And you don't have to start as soon as you are out of the womb.

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  • 68. At 4:05pm on 13 Aug 2008, NuclearChicken wrote:

    I am astounded by the number of miserable mean-spirited posts above. Phelps truly is a phenomenon, and I've enjoyed every one of his races. I'm happy for the BBC to track his progress, as I'm very keen to see him achieve his record.

    And are people really criticising the media for hyperbole? Where have they been?

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  • 69. At 4:07pm on 13 Aug 2008, AussieInDubs wrote:

    Griff - I would assume there are different strokes invented one after each other as the sport evolved. Each is challenging in it's own way (Ever even attempted Butterfly?? It's very hard) and has it's place in the Games.

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  • 70. At 4:07pm on 13 Aug 2008, porchos wrote:

    Was Schumacher good for motor racing?
    Is Tiger Woods good for golf?

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  • 71. At 4:10pm on 13 Aug 2008, kremlinko wrote:

    You can swim pretty fast with no goggles. I won many years ago in Crawley and noone had goggles in the freestyle.For some reason , some people are just bloody fast ina pool. They are also bloody fast in choppy sea. You need the body, you need the technique(often brutally taught to be honest) and you just need this strange tunnel focus which appears optical but is psychological.That last element just takes away so much effort.

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  • 72. At 4:12pm on 13 Aug 2008, gc wrote:

    I was also getting a little tired of hearing about Phelps especially when he had only won one gold etc.
    But after watching his races I have to say he is worth plenty of attention. If dominating swimming is so easy for a great athlete then how come only two guys have done it? Ian Thorpe was thought to be totally dominant but never even did this.
    Whilst this number of golds will only ever be available in swimming his achivement is great and he must be ranked with the greatest olympians.
    BTW Carl Lewis was aquitted of any wrongdoing and still has his medals.
    Phelps certainly is the greatest swimmer. I'd still personally go for Sir Steve, especially after the "If anybody ever sees me get in a boat again they have my permission to shoot me" comment after his 4th gold.

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  • 73. At 4:13pm on 13 Aug 2008, griff_1000 wrote:

    AussieInDubs, yep, tried butterfly once, almost drowned! :) I'm definitely not saying that the different strokes are easy or anything, and I absolutely agree that all the swimmers are superb athletes and Phelps in particular is absolutely phenomenal. It's also a fair and good competition when people are doing the same thing e.g. butterfly, but then there are lots of ways of running too, all of them hard if you want to do them quickly, yet we've settled on a single event for each distance there. I think what I'm really getting worked up by is the sheer number of events of ALL types in the Olympics, not just in swimming. This was the only blog I came across when I had time to comment though :)

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  • 74. At 4:15pm on 13 Aug 2008, noeltidybeard2 wrote:

    Phelps, greatest ever Olympian? Don't make me laugh. As mentioned, swimming is a sport where they hand out medals like sweets. He's very good at it, mind. Perhaps if he wins another 7 or 8 golds in 2012 he might just have a claim.

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  • 75. At 4:18pm on 13 Aug 2008, vincerhodes wrote:

    First of all 4% body fat is not ridiculous for an Olympian, healthy for a 20 - 39 yr old man is considered to be around 8 - 15%, and the level of fat essential for survival is about 2 - 5%.

    Shame on the people on here referring to doping as soon as someone performs exceptionally, swimming is almost certainly affected by the new suit this year (it was developed to be faster deliberately!)

    And as a response to Griff_1000, you could argue that about any olympic event, why are there different weight categories etc etc. At the end of the day there are different ways to swim and if you think about it there are actually very different ways to run too, otherwise why don't the 100m runners look physically like marathon runners, and why do they NEVER run in the same races??? Because it's different technique and attributes, that's why.

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  • 76. At 4:20pm on 13 Aug 2008, bush_n_blair wrote:

    Winning an olympic gold swimming medal isn't like waiting for a bus. It takes years of training, dedication, sacrifice and mile upon mile of lenghts in the pool. To be the supreme athelete you have to be better than the best. Micheal Phelps is a once in a lifetime person, his feat may never be achieved again. The man is breaking world records at will and doing them with a recovery time faster than other swimmer past or present (Spitz excepted). Having said that, you cannot give him the tag of the greatest ever olympian, that belongs to Steve Redgrave who was the best of the best over a 20 year span (5 olympics). If Phelps can win at least a gold medal at each of the next 3 olympics then he truly will be the greatest sportsman that ever walked the earth. Until then he is up there with the best of them, only time will tell if he's the greatest ever.

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  • 77. At 4:21pm on 13 Aug 2008, AussieInDubs wrote:

    I'm surprised that if they hand out medals like sweets in swimming that there aren't more of us putting our hand up and having a crack. I know I'd love to have one to show off to the lads down the pub...

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  • 78. At 4:25pm on 13 Aug 2008, coomare wrote:

    With a body characteristic like that where is the big surprise that he is doing well? Without the gift of the body sheer trainign alone would not have done it for sure.

    When a person below 6 feet does it then he deserves all the accolade.

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  • 79. At 4:31pm on 13 Aug 2008, niceWillCo wrote:

    porchos - at 67 you wrote 'Sports such as basketball and rugby can only be played by either tall or large people'. Been to any Rugby or Basketball matches recently? Of all sports Rugby can be played by people of all shapes and sizes.

    Next you will decry the 100m sprint as it requires you to be quick or weightlifting because you have to be strong. Come on!

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  • 80. At 4:32pm on 13 Aug 2008, greenfranniegirl wrote:

    Is his body fat really important? Does the number of medals he wins really important. Here is a young man doing what he obviously love and doing it darn well. He is a joy to watch when he competes. What bothers me about the Olympics are the commentators. If someone doesn't get gold then they seem to be a disappointment. I can only dream of doing half the things these athletes do! They are all magnificent whether they get a medal or not. Why we have to analyze everything is beyond me. Watch and enjoy!

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  • 81. At 4:32pm on 13 Aug 2008, sportsnut59 wrote:

    Gymnasts also have the opportunity of winning a bag full of medals the way that their competitions are set out. (Team event, overall individual as well as numerous individual pieces of apparatus to master). But because each of pieces of apparatus is different, medals are awarded for each. Surely that is no different to the different disciplines involved with swimming?

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  • 82. At 4:40pm on 13 Aug 2008, Mike wrote:

    Whether Michael Phelps is the 'Greatest Olympian of all Time' or not is purely media babble. He's only 23 and could easily be around for the next 2012 Olympics and even the 2016 Olympics. Men typically reach a physical peak in their late 20s or early 30s.

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  • 83. At 4:41pm on 13 Aug 2008, Pollyk wrote:

    BTW - everyone that is saying that Sir Steve Redgrave is the greatest Olympian ever - due to his winning Golds across five games as oppossed Vanessa Phelps' eleven over two are plainly missing the point.

    If that is the case, then isn't Birgit Fischer the greatest ever Olympian - she won gold at 6 different Olympics from what I can remember.

    So there you have it - the Germans win - again...

    Poll

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  • 84. At 4:41pm on 13 Aug 2008, comedy_of_errors wrote:

    i'm afraid i don't know much about swimming technically although I really enjoy it as a sport - watching and doing!

    watching michael phelps over these olympics has been fantastic and shown me how amazing humans can actually be. he is like a human fish through the water and watching his butterfly has made me wonder how an earth he manages to do it!

    his achievements can never be undermined - incredible athelete

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  • 85. At 4:45pm on 13 Aug 2008, virgins are special wrote:

    Phelps is ONE OF the greatest Olympians ever (and you just can't compare one sport to another) because he has every single component required to be at the top of his game i.e. exactly the right body structure, talented, training ethic, focused etc etc If you fail in any one of these areas, you can not win an Olympic Gold. So, unfortanely shorties can't win swimming events but they can win at gymnastics.

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  • 86. At 4:47pm on 13 Aug 2008, Luke wrote:

    vincerhodes yes 4% body fat is ridiculous for a swimmer. Phelps is around 8-10%.

    Learn something.

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  • 87. At 4:48pm on 13 Aug 2008, 1welshbloke wrote:

    Just checked and in both summer and winter games, of the 59 competitors with 5 or more golds, 11 are swimmers, 16 are gymnasts, 4 are from athletics, 6 fencers, 5 shooting.......and 2 from rowing.

    There are 17 swimming events for men and 17 for women. It is not uncommon for swimmers to compete in multiple events. Phelps however is competing in almost half of them!

    In athletics there are 24 events for men and 23 for women. Athletes too (usually only track) can compete in more than one event but even Carl Lewis did a maximum of 4!

    In rowing there are currently 8 events for men, and 7 for women. Now that the coxed pairs has gone most rowers compete in one event.

    In terms of most medals, gymnasts hold the top slots. But note that apart from modern rhythmic gymnastics, a gymnast has a chance of a medal in each of the disciplines, an overall individual title and a team title!

    So despite having fewer events swimmers occupy more places than athletes in the multiple medal holders.

    My conclusion - it is far easier for a swimmer or gymnast to gain multiple golds despite having (theoretically) fewer events to do.

    I would guess that in practice both swimmers and gymnasts alike have more medal chances per olympiad than other disciplines.

    So either cut down the number of disciplines in swimming and gymnastics, add others in athletics (e.g. 60m) or.....more realistically how about we all just recognise that these comparisons are ultimately pointless and we all recognise that we cannot pinpoint one person as being the greatest - and on that note I hope the BBC does so too!

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  • 88. At 4:54pm on 13 Aug 2008, Mike wrote:

    woolloomoolooinoz comments that “If you take Michael out of the current team USA's equation you will see that so far they have only one gold medal in the pool - Aaron peirsol, and possibly one gold medal from their 4 x 200 mens freestyle relay from the men, and this is halfway through the meet. They have only one silver medal and that was also in the same event that Aaron Peirsol took the gold. So where are all their other men swimmers? I often wonder how one can train and train day in day out month in month out year in year out if all you are going to achieve at the end is a silver medal behind Michael Phelps.”

    Aren't countries only allowed to bring 2 swimmers for each event because the Olympic committee decided that this would prevent a few countries from getting all the medals in certain events, like swimming? The results of the US Olympic swimming trials were so close and with so many mild upsets that many people who follow swimming in the US do not think the best possible team was sent to Beijing. If fewer athletes are training for the Olympics, it’s probably because the competition to make the smaller team is now greater. Athletes receive no government stipend to train in the US. They don’t collect a salary in the army and never hold a gun, as in some countries. The decision to devote four years to train can have a devastating impact on an athlete’s off-the-field career. With fewer positions on the team, the secondary and tertiary athletes, who may pan out to be the super star, may choose not to try.

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  • 89. At 4:58pm on 13 Aug 2008, coomare wrote:

    85. At 4:45pm on 13 Aug 2008, virgins are special wrote:

    So what is the adversity that Mr. Phelps has overcome to be considered top?

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  • 90. At 5:00pm on 13 Aug 2008, Brewten wrote:

    At 6ft 4 (=1.967m) and 83 kg, he has a Body Mass Index of 21.4 which my doctor calls absolutely normal (Normal Range 20 - 25)!

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  • 91. At 5:03pm on 13 Aug 2008, kappaboy wrote:

    why are the british here always on the defensive?

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  • 92. At 5:08pm on 13 Aug 2008, virgins are special wrote:

    Post 89. None. That's the point. Everything has fallen perfectly for him, and that's why he's a winner.

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  • 93. At 5:11pm on 13 Aug 2008, virgins are special wrote:

    Post 89 - I'm basically agreeing with your earlier post. Any person who wins Olympics without having the perfect body structure, could then reasonably be called the greatest ever olympian.

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  • 94. At 5:13pm on 13 Aug 2008, coomare wrote:

    92. At 5:08pm on 13 Aug 2008, virgins are special wrote

    My definition is completely different. Say for example the US flag bearer wins a medal (whose story is very poignant) then i would rate it higher than someone who gets it without overcoming any adversity.

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  • 95. At 6:29pm on 13 Aug 2008, sensiblewiseoldman wrote:

    Relays shouldn't count in an athletes medal haul; you have to be born in the right country..Frankie Fredricks from Namibia for instance never had a chance to win a relay medal. So Phelps, Spitz, Lewis and Johnson's totals have been inflated by being from the USA; they are all great athletes of course.
    Re Redgrave, an incredible athlete but he never won a medal by himself, bit like relay medals, you have to come from a country where there are enough other great athletes to produce a winning team. Sir Steve was lucky enough to have Sir Matthew to help him!

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  • 96. At 6:58pm on 13 Aug 2008, mmcevoy wrote:

    From an earlier comment:

    "I would very much doubt that his body fat percentage is 4 as that would be extremely unhealthy!

    In fact, competition swimmers supposedly have a slightly higher body fat percentage than other elite athletes."

    In an adult male 4% body fat is not at all unhealthy. Anything down to ~2% is easily achievable without any adverse health effects. This contrasts sharply with women, whose body fat cannot go below ~15% before effects like amennoreah (lack of menstruation) begin to show up. Professional bodybuilders usually compete at ~2% body fat in order to showcase their muscle tone.

    I am far from an elite athlete, but usually sit between 5 and 6% body fat. Phelps has noticeably more defined abdominal muscles than I do (largely a measure of body fat) so 4% is a very reasonable estimate. He also appears to be a bit lighter than most other elite swimmers (who do tend to have slightly more fat than runners or cyclists, it is true).

    In fact, it is almost impossible to see good abdominal definition on anybody with more than 8% body fat. While the average man might have ~15-20% body fat it is not at all unreasonable to get to 4% or below.

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  • 97. At 7:11pm on 13 Aug 2008, stwl wrote:

    #81 (sportsnut59) - I get the impression that, for each discipline in swimming, the set of ideal physical attributes is pretty much the same (the ones Steve Parry discussed in the original post). In gymnastics, I'm not sure that is the case - for example, the rings seem to require greater upper-body strength, and consequently some gymnasts specialise in this, to the detriment of their tumbling.

    For running, it seems that sprinters and distance runners have very different physiques, with few exceptions. Given that the participants specialise, I can't imagine the physical profile of someone who would be able to be world-class at both 100m and 5000m, say.


    (Gymnasts also have the opportunity of winning a bag full of medals the way that their competitions are set out. (Team event, overall individual as well as numerous individual pieces of apparatus to master). But because each of pieces of apparatus is different, medals are awarded for each. Surely that is no different to the different disciplines involved with swimming?

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  • 98. At 7:12pm on 13 Aug 2008, stwl wrote:

    Sorry, accidentally appended #81 to my last comment.

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  • 99. At 7:27pm on 13 Aug 2008, Luke wrote:

    mmcevoy hahaha are you joking?

    It is not healthy at all and virtually impossible to get to 2% and no you do not sit around at 5% body fat. lol

    You can also normally see abs on people at around 12%

    Professional bodybuilders compete at around 4% body fat btw and they can only stay at that for a few hours before their body becomes too dehydrated.

    Some people should stop themselves posting about things they know nothing about.

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  • 100. At 7:32pm on 13 Aug 2008, mweller wrote:

    I enjoyed this artivle, and the comments as well.

    Suffice it to say that Mr. Phelps is an extaordinary swimmer. Obviously as this article illustrates, he was physically gifted with some attributes that have helped his desire to be a great swimmer. But, he still had to have a huge ammount of commitment and focus to accomplish what he has done--as most in these olympics have. So, to set as many world records, win as many golds in this Olympiad and in Athens is phenominal.

    As others have posted, today's swimmers world over are so much more accomplished than just a few years back. I believe it was said that in the 4x100 relay in which the Americans inched the French, the top 5 teams all broke the old record. For Michael Phelps to stay on top with his competition improving thus is something I find remarkable.

    I won't get into the debate about greatest Olympian--far too subjective to be definitely answered. But I do echo another post that we should enjoy his accomplishments--we may not see the likes of it again. It's enough even to pull me away from Womens Beach Volleyball for a moment or two!

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  • 101. At 7:47pm on 13 Aug 2008, MartinTennis wrote:

    6ft 4ins, 83kg ?

    it would be useful if u used metric only.

    anyway, with that height and size he has a BMI of 22.3, that's average, NOT underweight.

    but, with his muscles, he is a bit underweight.

    ---

    he is the most succesful olympian ever, why even try to decide if he is the "greatest" ?

    what does the "greatest" mean ?

    is the greatest the best ?
    no, just like Federer is the best tennis player, but not the greatest, yet.

    is the greatest the most succesful ?
    no, because longevity adds to greatness, Lewis, and especialy Redgrave showed that they were good for a very long time, but swimmers just don't last that long.

    lets just compare him to swimmers, is he the best ever ?

    probably,

    Spitz did one thing that sets him appart from Phelps, he won the 100m free.

    but, until tonight at least, Phelps beat Van Den Hoogenband on the 100m free (arguably the fastest swimmer ever, his second 50 is unbeaten, he would still be top of the world if he had a better start)

    so, even if Phelps is not contesting the 100m free, he showed he is very good.

    conclusion:

    he is the "greatest" swimmer ever.

    and he is the most succesful Olympian ever

    but

    there is no such thing as the "greatest" Olympian, and if there was, it would not be him, but Lewis and Nuurmi, or maybe Commaneci ?, and why not Redgrave, Zatopek ?

    Or Owens ?, it's really great that he made Hitler leave the stadium !

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  • 102. At 7:49pm on 13 Aug 2008, MartinTennis wrote:

    sorry, some of this post belonged somewhere else.

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  • 103. At 7:54pm on 13 Aug 2008, Sariel59 wrote:

    AussieIn Dubs - Might I point out that Phelps was part of a team that won him one of his gold medals? I take nothing away from his performance which is remarkable, but I am fed up of the greatest olympian talk. You simply cannot compare events.

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  • 104. At 8:03pm on 13 Aug 2008, jbvh2008 wrote:

    "I get the impression that, for each discipline in swimming, the set of ideal physical attributes is pretty much the same (the ones Steve Parry discussed in the original post). " This is not true. For example, the best breaststrokers are duck-footed, which would be a severe liability in a butterfly swimmer.

    It is more accurate to say that, for each discipline in track and field, the set of ideal physical attributes is much the same. After all, running and jumping use the same muscles, and running sprints uses the same muscles as running the 3000m.

    This is why Phelps is phenomenal: he can slog his way through breaststroke for 200m and gain on his opponents even though he is not physically built for the sport, he can go 400 meters in the most grueling endurance event in swimming (with the possible exception of the 1500m, but what nonswimmers don't get is the toll of butterfly on your endurance - and that's what you lead off with on an IM) and yet go head to head with the likes of Bernard and Sullivan in the sprint 100m.

    Think about Carl Lewis adding the hurdles or the high jump to his schedule and you'll have an idea why Phelps is special.

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  • 105. At 8:05pm on 13 Aug 2008, jbvh2008 wrote:

    "I take nothing away from his performance which is remarkable, but I am fed up of the greatest olympian talk. You simply cannot compare events." I agree. But as far as swimming goes, he is the greatest ever. He is Tiger Woods and Carl Lewis and Pele and Michael Jordan for his sport.

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  • 106. At 8:17pm on 13 Aug 2008, 1welshbloke wrote:

    Post 104 - oh dear oh dear oh dear.

    The muscle groups used for 100m and 3000m are vastly different. Ever seen a 3000m runner with huge arms and shoulders? Ever seen a 3000m runner who can bench 100kg plus?

    In your own post you mention the differences between a fly swimmer and a breaststroker - guess what.....Phelps worst discipline is the breaststroke.

    well I think its clear - if medal haul is the standard by which we judge olympic greats you are statistically better off being a swimmer or gymnast. Oh and preferably from the USA and Oz if a swimmer cos then you get lots of good team mates for the relay!

    so greatest olympian - there simply isn't one - there are just a lot of olympic greats!

    Redgrave, Spitz, Phelps, Eric Heiden, Zatopek, Nurmi, Coe, Michael Johnson, etc etc etc etc - different sports, different eras, different competitors, different potential medals. And imagine if the US hadn't boycotted in 1980 - Ed Moses would likely have won three 400m hurdles on the bounce!

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  • 107. At 8:31pm on 13 Aug 2008, 1welshbloke wrote:

    I've posted this elsewhere so apologies but I think it is relevant.

    Just checked and in both summer and winter games, of the 59 competitors with 5 or more golds, 11 are swimmers, 16 are gymnasts, 4 are from athletics, 6 fencers, 5 shooting.......and 2 from rowing.

    There are 17 swimming events for men and 17 for women. It is not uncommon for swimmers to compete in multiple events. Phelps however is competing in almost half of them!

    In athletics there are 24 events for men and 23 for women. Athletes too (usually only track) can compete in more than one event but even Carl Lewis did a maximum of 4!

    In rowing there are currently 8 events for men, and 7 for women. Now that the coxed pairs has gone most rowers compete in one event.

    In terms of most medals, gymnasts hold the top slots. But note that apart from modern rhythmic gymnastics, a gymnast has a chance of a medal in each of the disciplines, an overall individual title and a team title!

    So despite having fewer events swimmers occupy more places than athletes in the multiple medal holders.

    My conclusion - it is far easier for a swimmer or gymnast to gain multiple golds despite having (theoretically) fewer events to do.

    I would guess that in practice both swimmers and gymnasts alike have more medal chances per olympiad than other sports.

    so I think its clear - if medal haul is the standard by which we judge olympic greats you are statistically better off being a swimmer or gymnast. Oh and preferably from the USA and Oz if a swimmer cos then you get lots of good team mates for the relay!

    So either cut down the number of disciplines in swimming and gymnastics, add others in athletics (e.g. 60m) or.....more realistically how about we all just recognise that these comparisons are ultimately pointless and we all recognise that we cannot pinpoint one person as being the greatest - and on that note I hope the BBC does so too!

    so greatest olympian - there simply isn't one - there are just a lot of olympic greats!



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  • 108. At 8:32pm on 13 Aug 2008, 1welshbloke wrote:

    Sorry wrong forum!

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  • 109. At 9:01pm on 13 Aug 2008, jammybadger16 wrote:

    You all need to calm down and enjoy the games and the efforts of the athletes- especially those of team GB!

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  • 110. At 9:11pm on 13 Aug 2008, IOM_RAM wrote:

    On the body fat issue, from what I have been taught you all are right in some things you say.

    My understanding is that 5-6% is the lowest body fat can safely go in males but we are talking elite, elite level (as Phelps is). I don't agree that he is between 8-12%, I know what someone of 8% looks like and Phelps looks alot trimmer than that.

    We need to remember anyway that you can't measure body fat, you can only estimate it.

    The guy who claims he is at 4%, did you measure it by skin calipers by any chance? From personal experience that isn't at all accurate.

    The most accurate way is using a DXA machine but these are rare and expensive

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  • 111. At 10:44pm on 13 Aug 2008, hakluytbean wrote:

    One ingredient not mentioned yet is maybe the very high quality of U.S. swimming in general. Some family friends wound up in San Antonio for a few years and their daughter was pretty speedy in the pool. At about 9 or 10 she had a bedroom full of rosettes, cups etc. and by full I mean full, and this is an American bedroom ;) She competed far and wide but evidently didn't quite reach national standards. I guess for older swimmers the strong collegiate system plays a role in creating a competitive environment, something (I get the impression) the UK really lacks.

    As for Phelps himself the really interesting thing in the article is the mention of lactic recovery, but it's also the point lacking supporting info. Is there a kind of lactic league table for swimmers, some stats?

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  • 112. At 10:50pm on 13 Aug 2008, Luke wrote:

    IOM_RAM Phelps is not below 8% body fat. That is a fact. I know competiting bodybuilders so I know that below 8% is ripped to shreds seriously.

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  • 113. At 11:31pm on 13 Aug 2008, BadgerMilker wrote:

    Micheal Phelps has (in my eyes) become the greatest Olympian ever, myself not having touched a swimming pool in about 6 years now feel compelled to jump straight in and start swimming again, he is a true inspiration and i have never felt so excited over swimming events as i have this year! (Michael Johnson is a very close second in ' Greatest Olympian Ever' for me!).

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  • 114. At 11:54pm on 13 Aug 2008, tuks181 wrote:

    Well obviously his achievement stands out but personally I doubt he should be called the greatest olympian. As some people have noted, he competes in swimming where it is rather "easy" to compete in all events - 100m 200m, 400m, relays, fly stroke, individual Medley, butterfly stroke, breast stroke, free style, etc. He has such a large pool of swimming events from which he can win more and more medals. I say it is easier for swimmers because, for instance in atheletics, you never find a Carl Lewis competing in 400m (though yes, Marion Jones did ran in the 4x400 relay in 2000) or Michael Johnson competing in a marathon - it's extremely difficult but easy for swimmers. Probably we should be looking at games such as pentathlon which require different skills and abilities to win then coz they combine several discilplines and competitions - to me, these are the greatest olympians. Nonetheless I'd consider him among the greatest Olympians (and certainly the greatest Swimmer) but you'd have to convince me he's the greatest Olympian of all time.

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  • 115. At 00:35am on 14 Aug 2008, lfcfootyfan wrote:

    I still think this is too much debate on whether or not he is the greatest ever, I don't think anyone can ever judge that, in any sport. Different eras, different competitors, different training and facilities, different funding and on, and on, and on.

    Carl Lewis in the 50m (if it was an event)? It would have been a walk in the park. Come to think of it, if they had an event for the walk in the park a lot of people would have won that too!

    I would like to see Carl Lewis vs. Ben Johnson in the over 40's Egg and Spoon race next Olympics in London.

    Maybe we can add Fancy Dress Swimming to the next Olympics too and have Phelps wearing a dolphin suit to claim another gold.

    Would definitely be a spectacle.

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  • 116. At 00:44am on 14 Aug 2008, spellbindingDamocles wrote:

    It is nice to read these comments and realise I am not the only one frustrated at everyone going on endlessly about Michael Phelps.

    Since I have been watching the olympics in 1980, swimming is becoming an increasingly annoying spectacle. The number of multiple gold medallists is becoming ridiculous. I fully accept Phelps is clearly the greatest swimmer of the last 2 olympics and probably of all time (though butterfly is the least admirable stroke I have always thought, it seems rather contrived to me).
    His haul of medals is certainly impressive but Steph Rice has won both medleys, Piersol, Kitajima and Liesel Jones seem likely to do the same. Natalie Coughlin and Hoff will both go home with a load of medals as will several others.

    It is not just about Phelps they are all doing it and all breaking world records in the new bodysuit, which nobody seems to be contributing as a factor at all.

    I would guess that as all sport is more professional these days, the more dedicated or physically blessed swimmers with an ideal body shape are able to dominate in more events than they were able to in previous olympics.

    The solution would seem to me to change to 100m and 400m events in all strokes and scrap the 200m events, this would give endurance swimmers, not blessed with so much fast muscle fibre a chance. Certainly the ebb and flow of a close distance race like the womens 400m is in short supply.

    In response to a point earlier about gymnastics, it is becoming harder to get multiple medals now with the emergence of specialists for each apparatus piece.

    The comments from the BBC of "officially the greatest olympian ever" are dreadful, it is a relief to see so many others on this blog have realised this. He has won the most medals because he is a swimmer and is American. The US guy swimming the freestyle leg in the medley relay will get 3 gold as well from the relays I suppose, which will in fact make him a greater olympian then kelly Holmes by this "flawless"logic.

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  • 117. At 08:29am on 14 Aug 2008, nicknepal wrote:

    Not only does a great number of events make it possible to win loads of swimming golds, it also spreads the talent. If there was one short event for each stroke and a mega distance (any stroke they like) and a couple of relays all the best swimmers would have to train to and focus on maybe one or two specific events. This would increase the standards in the events that stayed and make winning 2 golds much harder.

    Redgrave got a Bronze too once, it really is nearly impossible to win more than one rowing gold and there was no question in the rowing community that Redgrave was carried. If he wasn't good enough for the four he wouldn't have got a seat, and there is no way they could have won carrying a passenger and he was always too big to be a cox.

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  • 118. At 09:14am on 14 Aug 2008, IOM_RAM wrote:

    Sorry LessthanLuke but you are going on examples of people you know. It is widely accepted in the scientific world that elite athletes can get down to 6% - google it, get down the library, whatever, it's a fact.

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  • 119. At 11:16am on 14 Aug 2008, Olumide Fagbeja wrote:

    Michael Phelps is a phenomenon, no doubt. He is a great athlete and swimmer and great olympian, no doubt. But the greatest. there is a big ? on anybody being called the greatest olympian or athlete.
    its just impossible to consider soo many factors that come into play when talking about different sports.
    if you are talking about a particular sport then you can make a call about one being dominant and among the greatest based on his dominance, talent (God -given and acquired) and hard work.
    if you talk to all so-called greatest athletes they will tell you about another in another sport who they admire.(e.g Roger Federer and Tiger woods) but to compare roger and Federer and try to determine who is greater is stupid, futile and a useless exercise.
    Also the hype of M. Phelps is because he is going for something never done before so lets not begrudge the hype(and he's American you know).
    BBC also has a duty to show other athletes which they are but I guess it makes more viewing to sensationalize people like Phelps.
    In all the lessons to all ordinary people is that we are all unique in ourselves and though we are not rate greatest in anything(well my 2 year old son thinks I'm the greatest dad for now), we can be happy in being unique.
    Also it's a season for sports and being healthy so lets join in.
    Cheers.

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  • 120. At 1:06pm on 14 Aug 2008, Boardrider38 wrote:

    On the greatest olympian front I'd like to say my personal opinion of a great olympian are those who successfully compete in Triathlons etc.

    They can master multiple olympic events and are a 'jack-of-all trades'.

    Phelps is dominant in swimming but there are plenty of athletes who have trained to do multiple events and i would say they are the greatest olympians and not necessarily Phelps or any other who 'specializes' in one olympic event/sport


    The Triathon is ONE event. One medal.

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  • 121. At 3:07pm on 14 Aug 2008, mightymike99 wrote:

    No... but maybe "not yet"

    Too many events in one sport. if there was 100m, 120m 140m 150m and 200m sprint then Carl lewis would be the greatest!

    If like Redgrave, Phelps comes back to win in the next 4 olympics several goals per olympic then we can consider him as a possible "greatest olympian".

    The Olympics is too baised towards swimming for the number of golds accumulated to be a simple measure of how great one is in it's history.

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  • 122. At 4:55pm on 14 Aug 2008, booboonutty wrote:

    As an ex swimmer and current teacher of swimming the majority of the comments written here confirm my belief that the vast majority of people in this country are very ignorant about the sport and probably a bit resentful because they never managed to learn to swim properly themselves.

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  • 123. At 5:06pm on 14 Aug 2008, scorpiocaribbean wrote:

    I think Michael phelps is absolutely outstanding and a great role model to kids.After watching him swim my son decided he wanted to swim more also and he used to be afraid of the water but now he pretends he is michael and has gained so much more confidence and is even going underwater so i say Thanks Michael you rock and lets hope you achieve your 8 medals i will be praying you do

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  • 124. At 7:07pm on 14 Aug 2008, Some_Cool-Guy wrote:

    Michael Phelps...what can you say, what a stunning swimmer.

    I recently restarted swimming after a long long break and the feeling you get when your swimming very well is amazing. I can only imagine what it must feel like to be that good...to swim that fast. He is like a machine !!

    Michael Phelps is now.... without a doubt the fastest swimmer of ALL time but to say he is the greatest olympian of all time is total madness.

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  • 125. At 8:58pm on 14 Aug 2008, flblogger wrote:

    Well said trooowenso, most of the ignorant comments are from those that freely admit they know nothing of the sport. I was a swimmer for many years, and what he is doing is amazing. I challenge anyone who doubts his athletic ability to jump into a pool and swim a simple hundred meters. Notice your arms burning, your lungs gasping for breath? Now do that about 20 times and you'll come close to understanding what he has gone through on a daily basis for many years to get to this point.
    He is simply at his top form and there is no questioning that fact. Even the great Mark Spitz is in awe of his accomplishments. The rest of the world can only sit and marvel at what he has achieved at the young age of 23.

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  • 126. At 9:19pm on 14 Aug 2008, nosegoose wrote:

    Greatest swimmer of ALL time? Try Beowulf, who apparently swam in the sea for three days and nights fighting sea monsters! A silly point perhaps as there is not much historical accuracy in Anglo-Saxon epic poetry such as this, but my point is that we cannot know who was best of ALL time without a time machine. Just because times are improving doesn't mean that an athlete from 100 years ago, or 1000, might not do better brought forward to now, trained and put in a fancy suit with modern facilities. Also there are other forms of swimming, such as free diving, which are very demanding. So really all we can say is that Phelps is the greatest competitive swimmer around at this current time. But that is still something for him to write home about.

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  • 127. At 9:54pm on 14 Aug 2008, thunderouspool wrote:

    if he was british we would love him like we do redgrave. he is amazing and the best athlete in the world end of story. if only us brits had someone of his ability in any of ours sports. we dont thats that!

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  • 128. At 10:07pm on 14 Aug 2008, hakluytbean wrote:

    Well, his physique and commitment and so on make him special to begin with, but re his powers of recovery, according to his relay team-mates he's using Optygen, which is a perfectly legal supplement. Presumably many swimmers are, but I'd never heard of it. ”With Optygen, I’ve been able to swim faster more often in practice. Optygen has been instrumental in allowing me to finish my races faster.” said his team-mate Jason Lezak.

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  • 129. At 09:12am on 15 Aug 2008, shrivast77 wrote:

    Give this guy a break people. Just imagine what would have happened is Phelps was in GB Team. The front, back and middle pages (basically all the pages) would have been filled with stories about how he grew up, where he was trained and obstacles he had to go through to become what he is now. The pool centres across the country would be renamed and revamped as “Phelps Centre” (just like Adlington Centre in her home town after she won gold in “Swimming”). There would even be interviews from his neighbours, school teacher, pool cleaner et al as standard. The whole nation would over the night become joyous with their spirits high as the sky. The Palace would have announced his knighthood. Little kids would take up swimming as their only passion in the life (remember Ashes victory few summers back?). Basically, he would have been greatest. But only if he was in team GB!

    I think what he has achieved is incredible and should be celebrated by all. He deserves all the accolades. My only wish is that what he has achieved is I hope because of his talents (or anatomy or physiology) and not because of any drugs.

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  • 130. At 11:08am on 15 Aug 2008, ja-nee wrote:

    i've read quite a few of these comments and what i would like to see is the dropping of the word "easy" when discussing swimming. i swam competitively for 15 years of my life and i can tell you there was nothing "easy" about it. it took dedication and commitment - and it was nowhere near the commitment and dedication that Phelps and those other swimmers have shown to get where they are today.

    i agree that he is probably not the greatest Olympian EVER, however, neither do i think Steve Redgrave was, no matter how much i admire both athletes for their achievements. are they both phenomenal in their own disciplines? of course! but there is no comparison. SR relied on 3 other people to get him those medals (to take nothing away from the effort that was required to get those medals) just like Phelps has relied on 3 other people to get him 2 golds in the relays (and a possible 3rd). does it detract from the effort and the total commitment, sacrifice and dedication to get there in the first place? of course not.

    yes, swimming has a lot of events, however, you have to be proficient in ALL four strokes to do what Phelps has done. i know in 15 years i didn't come close to what he has achieved, not for lack of trying. for that alone he has my total admiration!

    someone posted earlier:

    "Thirdly as someone who has done some rowing I can tell you now that it is a very technical sport. The idea that it is merely the case of jumping in a boat and pulling hard is nonsense. You ahve to be technically good."

    does this mean that anyone can just jump in a pool and flap their arms and swim like a fish? i think not! swimming is all about technique, body placement in the water, momentum, breathing, pacing etc. at the end of the day it is impossible to compare sports so don't. however, if you want to compare swimming to athletics then lets look at the 100m. swimming a 100m butterfly or freestyle, for example, takes 47+ seconds whereas to run 100m is just under 10 seconds. surely that in itself is incomparable? swimmers also have to break their rhythm halfway through the race to do a tumble turn. you also can't just open your mouth and take a breath when you feel like it.

    as for those talking about body fat, Lance Armstrong used to have somewhere like 3% or 4% body fat during the TdF and he wrote that athletes "skated on the edge" at that level as their body could not fight off the smallest of viruses and so the they pick up small infections a lot easier. it is, therefore, possible for an athlete to be at 4% and compete at a high level, however, the longer they remain at that weight, and continue to compete, the more likely it is that they will get sick.

    as for the drugs thing - i have to say i have an inkling of doubt seeing world records being smashed in every single event - sometimes by more than a second. and before everyone gets on their high horse - this is largely due to the fact that these new "legal" swimsuits (which i personally think should be banned) were used in the World Championships a few months back. if i remember correctly there were something like 30+ world records smashed during the World Champs because of these swimsuits, which is fair enough as they say a swimmer can drop a second per 100m using them. however, the problem i have is that i am now seeing those new world records - which were only set in the World Champs - being smashed (at times by more than a second) by the same people, wearing the same suits they wore in the World Champs. sorry, i want to believe that its pure hard work and talent but that small inkling of doubt just won't go away.

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  • 131. At 12:09pm on 16 Aug 2008, Phebs17 wrote:

    In reading some peoples comments that they that have left regarding Michael Phelps's AMAZING achievements so far in Beijing, I must disagree!!!

    Phelps is, and has to be, the greatest Olympian of all time, and possibly the greatest ever Sportsman. Whereas, it is difficult to compare different sports, you cannot ignore what he has achieved. You can win multiple events in swimming, but how many other swimmers have ever done what he has done??? Not many!!! Just because there are more events in swimming doesn't make it any easier to win a gold, let alone 8!! Also, competing for 8 days straight, to such a high level, (breaking world records nearly every race) is extremely demanding!! Getting up early for finals, then swimming heats and semis that day, at phenomenal times!!! Exhausting for both mind and body!!!Therefore, he is rightly the greatest olympian of all time, and deserves every gold he gets!!!

    Oh and in reading Steve Parry's blog, what was that about!!!!! Yes Phelps does have some physical attributes that may be classed as an advantage in swimming, as a swimmer myself, I understand this, but he forgot one MAJOR factor!!!!............TALENT!!
    he is obviously extremely talented, and very hardworking, so what if he's tall with short legs and long arms, there may be other swimmers out there of similar build, but do they have 11 golds??



    Go Michael!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 132. At 7:06pm on 16 Aug 2008, MartinTennis wrote:

    @Phebs

    u re missing a major point here, YES what Phelps is doing is amazing, but this article is comparing Olympians based on their number of gold medals.

    what he achieved is amazing, for all the reasons u describe, but, still, it's a lot easier to win a lot of medals in swimming, u just can't compare 14 golds in swimming to 14 golds in Athletics.

    a gold medal in swimming is worth about a third of a medal in athletics.

    a great sprinter just can't win more than the 100m, long jump, 4*100 and 200m.

    a swimmer can develop his technique, and win multiple medals in races that all last between 50 and 60 seconds.

    i'm still more impressed by Eric Heiden, he won every medal in skating, 500, 1000, 1500, 5000 and 10000 meters.

    Phelps is one of the greatest Olympians (top 5), but not the greatest (per se) if u only take the number of medals into account.

    Nuurmi and Zatopek won multiple medals on the same day as well.

    Lewis won medals in 4 olympics, Redgrave in 5 (something simply impossible to achieve in Swimming, i admit)

    greatest swimmer ? yes absolutely !

    but i just don't see a way to compare swimming to other sports, OK, it's not "easy" to win multiple medals, but in any other sport it's impossible.

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  • 133. At 4:29pm on 17 Aug 2008, traxx4fun wrote:

    Virtually every single sport has some elite-ness, whether that be funding, availability or just perseverance. As a parent of one who entered a sport in England as a school boy, then club sport, county sport and finally representing his home country in the USA, I can speak to the sheer dedication of the family behind the athlete and to that athlete's ongoing determination to do his/her best. Mine has been at this for more than half his life - he's now 28.
    'Greatness' is within the athlete not a label applied by the media. 'Greatness' is also humbled every day by pain, fatigue and disappointments; anyone who has competed in any sport for many years has the potential to develop future bone/muscle/nerve troubles. Anyone who is selected to be an Olympian has already achieved a level of The Greatness within them, and the great support from trainers, coaches, team-mates, competitors is never undervalued. The media does not focus on the years of training, or those that help the athlete in any way because it simply does not make headlines or sell advertising space. While the term "Greatest" obviously makes for lengthy discussions and heated disputes, so does politics. So let's leave "greatest" to the moment that has defined one swimmer's overwhelming achievements in this Olympics and continue to be overwhelmed by others in their sport achievements. There's a reason that most athletes value their "PB's" (personal bests) - because they continually strive to improve and to do their best. Mark Spitz was heavily criticised for the famous photo with all 7 medals around his neck. Why should any of us take umbrage with such marvelous achievements? You're only young once, unless you're Dara, value that and what you can do; leave envy out of it.

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