The Millennium Men: When a Group of Young Boys Took Team USA to New Heights

Michael Phelps - suited to win and set records whatever the fashion happened to be [Photo: Patrick B. Kraemer]

They look different now. The baby faces are gone, replaced by stubble or full-beardedness. They have their own homes, no longer subject to parental rules. They can buy a drink at a bar. It wasn’t that way in 2000, when they descended on Indianapolis and – unknowingly – started a Golden Age in United States Swimming history.

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They look different now. The baby faces are gone, replaced by stubble or full-beardedness. They have their own homes, no longer subject to parental rules. They can buy a drink at a bar. It wasn’t that way in 2000, when they descended on Indianapolis and – unknowingly – started a Golden Age in United States Swimming history.

Comments

aswimfan

Having talent pool so deep, USA always almost never have to worry about gaps in the cycle between one great to the next one. When superstars Phelps and Lochte retiring, there are already the next superstars no less brighter in Ledecky and Franklin.

Never say never, but I think the chance is very small there will be a 15 male swimmer in the next few decades who will become world champion or world record holder or olympics medalist like Thorpe, Phelps and Gyurta.

Think about this stunning fact: at the current age of Michael Andrew, Ian Thorpe became world champion, Phelps broke World Record, and Gyurta won Olympics silver.

The only current young male swimmer who can probably get near to those rarefied status is Reece Whitley. He is still 14 and if he keeps up his improvement rate for the next 18 months, he could very well qualified for the Olympics, and then who knows. But it’s a lot of big “ifs”

CharlesB

It is odd to note that despite Michael being the most decorated Olympian of all time, the Olympic cycle did not fall kindly for him. One year later and he would have certainly had medals at the age of 16 (possibly gold) and probably his first three-peat would have been the 200 m fly. With the Olympic cycle shifted two years later he would have been even more competitive. Arguably, his current total of 22 medals is the worst that he could have earned!!!

luigi

Anthony Ervin is still out there doing damage in the sprint races and I find that amazing when I think of the years of inactivity. One of the best natural talents ever to come out of the USA great pool.

aswimfan

CharlesB, you cannot extrapolate and apply “ifs” and make it certainty in real life.
I don’t know how old you are, but life does not work like a computer machine. Alot of wisdom required in threading life.

For example,
if Phelps’ first olympics had been one year later, he might have won 200 fly. but that’s it.
And had he won olympics gold at the age of 16, who’s to say he wouldn’t have burned out? Swimming history is littered with many examples of great young swimmers whose career cut short of burned out (including Thorpe to an extent). Remember how Gyurta in his partying years after winning Ahens silver?

Say he doesn’t burn out, then his second olympics would have been in 2005. Remember how Phelps’ was in 2005? no?
OK, say Phelps 2005 were like his 2004 Athens.

And then his third olympics would have been in 2009. Remember 2009?
no?
Let me remind you: in 2009 where the jakeds and Arena and Adidas were more superior than Speedo, Phelps won only 2 individual golds.

And Phelps’ third Olympics would have been in 2013. if that had been the case, Phelps would have won zero individual gold or maybe i gold from 100 fly (although Le Clos might have won that one too)

See, Phelps is very lucky the olympics cycle coincided perfectly with stages in his life. His first olympics gave him experience and hunger. His second olympics was motivated by ambition to usurp Thorpe and Spitz. And when he failed in usurping Spitz, that ignited his hunger again for 2008, where he was gifted such an incredible luck by that Cavic’s 0.01 second glide and Oout of this world Lezak drafting Bernard.

So, unlike you, Phelps’ 22 medals is the best he could have earned!!

If you still like to play “if” situation, I want to keep entertaining you. Now Imagine also other scenario:
Phelps was born outside of USA. Say, in another great swimming nation of australia. How many less medals do you think he would have won?

Argument?

Billabong

The relay medals radically inflate Phelp’s stature. He would still be the greatest, but not by such a huge margin if he swam for Team GB or the Netherlands. He can still add to his hall in the relays at Rio, but those medals would be softer, especially if he is just swimming prelims.

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