2004: The Michael Phelps Olympics

An important part of American Swimming History: Michael Phelp’s 2004 Athens Olympics

Just as 1972 will be remembered as Mark Spitz’s Olympics, Athens 2004 will always be “Michael’s Games,” as the 19-year-old won six gold and eight medals overall, equaling the most ever medals won in a single Olympiad.

His face was everywhere you looked: on NBC’s endless promotions for the Games, swimming “laps” for VISA from Greece to the Statue of Libertyand back (an idea possibly lifted from the Beatles’ movie, “Help”); on countless other print and TV ads; smiling at you from every conceivable page of every newspaper in the land; on the cover of SI, Time, Parade; and on and on.

He was everywhere!

It was impossible to escape. It didn’t matter if you switched channels on your TV, the local, national and international reporters would be talking about Michael. Turn on your radio and even the sports talk shows, whose hosts are only dimly aware of any sport beyond baseball, football, basketball, hockey and golf, and it was all Michael. All the time. Not M.J., but M.P.

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Michael Collins – Irvine Novaquatic Masters

Michael Collins, head coach of the Irvine Novaquatic Masters, is a guy who can practice what he preaches, he has an illustrious track record as both a coach and an elite athlete.

There’s an old saying about the nature of instruction: “Those who can’t do, teach.”

The implication is that the reason why instructors choose to teach is because they themselves weren’t talented enough to make the grade in their chosen field.

However, try running that one past Michael Collins, head coach of the Irvine Novaquatic Masters, and you’re liable to leave the exchange feeling about two inches tall.

On the one hand, Collins has earned a reputation as being one of the country’s foremost authorities on Masters swimming, he’s written a book on the subject and collected an assortment of prestigious coaching awards.

His USMS career has been punctuated by All-American performances, he’s long been a top-ranked triathlete, and he’s the defending amateur world champion in the aquathon, an event which combines swimming and running.

In other words, this is a guy who can practice what he preaches.

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Michael Phelps: Chasing History

Branching Out
Bob Bowman, senior coach at North Baltimore Aquatic Club and coach of Michael Phelps for the many years, chuckled when he was asked, many years ago, if Phelps could extend his arsenal.

Since establishing himself as the globe’s elite flyer over the 200-meter distance, Phelps has spent so many years expanding his range. The proof is present in his world records in both individual medley events and his standing as the second fastest man in the 100 fly.

Still, in his constant search for greatness, the months leading to Athens was revolving around new endeavors. Already the owner of a national championship in each event, Phelps was to continue his maturation process in the 200 backstroke and 200 freestyle. Additionally, ventures were planned in the 100 and 400 freestyle events.

Of course, everything is by design. In an attempt to guarantee a place on the 400 freestyle relay in Greece, Phelps dedicated enhanced concentration to the 100 free in that year, confident that his performances would land a relay berth.

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Does Fat Make You Faster Swimmer?

Every sport has its enduring, but totally groundless myths. When it comes to swimming, the all-time champ is probably the one about body fat as an indispensable aid to doing well.

While it’s mostly the sinewy triathletes and runners at my swim camps who have fallen under this fictitious spell, it could be any ectomorphic would-be swimmer. “Thanks for trying to turn me into a good swimmer. But, I don’t have enough buoyancy to do anything except sink like a stone,” goes the lament.

But you do! And this should convince you: Tom Dolan, once America’s best hope for Olympic medals in distance freestyle and a world record holder in the 400-meter individual medley, has a razor-thin three percent body fat. Floating is obviously not the issue.

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How Mel Goldstein Trains

Mel Goldstein, the man behind the success of YMCA Indy SwimFit, continues to push himself in the water, a sign of his dedication to a healthy lifestyle. A former world and national champion at the Masters level, Goldstein hits the water five days a week for training sessions that feature 3,000-3,500 yards of work.

A 65-year-old, Goldstein also incorporates three days of running into his weekly schedule, taking to the roads for 32-minute runs on Wednesday and Friday. On Sunday, Goldstein goes for a long run, a workout that stretches up to 80 minutes.

Always looking for variety in his workouts, Goldstein’s favorite set is one that allows for mixing and matching. Following a warm-up swim, Goldstein will move into four rotations of a 400 pull, followed by a 200 stroke, followed by a 100 free (easy) and capped with a 50 (fast). The workout translates into a 3,000-yard practice.

The King Kong of Masters swimming is anything but an overwhelming specimen. At first glance, he’s just another guy, on the smaller side at 5-4. Really, he isn’t the type of individual that attracts all eyes_at least from those who are out of the loop.

Yet, Mel Goldstein is a giant in the swimming world, a walking oxymoron. He’s a little-big man, a major influence on the water world. He’s a first-class athlete, widely known for his exploits on the national and international stages of Masters swimming. He’s also a top-flight authority on the sport in behind-the-scenes fashion.

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Kosuke Kitajima. His Story

Kosuke Kitajima is a Japanese retired multiple Olympic gold medalist breaststroke swimmer. He won gold medals for the men’s 100 m and 200 m breaststroke at both the Athens 2004, and the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic games. This interview was conducted before the Olympics.

Name: Kosuke Kitajima
Date of Birth: Sept. 22, 1982
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Height: 5-9 1/2
Weight: 156 pounds
Year Started Swimming: At age 4
Education: Nihon Taiiku University (junior)
Club: Tokyo Swimming Center
Coach: Norimasa Hirai
2000 Olympics: 4th in 100 meter breast
2003 World Champs: 1st in 100 breast (59.78WR), 1st in 200 breast (2:09.42WR)

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Tara Kirk in Stanford

Tara Kirk won a total of fifteen medals in major international competition, this interview was conducted years ago but gives us a good overview.

THE KIRK FILE
Name: Tara Kirk
Date of Birth: July 12, 1982
Hometown: Bremerton, Wash.
Height: 5-6 (“On my team, a lot of the girls call me, `Little Tara.’ I’m not that small.”)
Weight: 145 pounds
Club: MetWest Stanford National Training Center Team
Coach: Richard Quick
Parents: Jeff and Margaret (both engineers)
Favorite Food: “I make an effort to eat healthy.” (But when she can’t control her urge for sweets, she loves dark chocolate and Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream.)

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The Michael Phelps Olympics

Just as 1972 will be remembered as Mark Spitz’s Olympics, Athens 2004 will always be “Michael’s Games,” as the 19-year-old won six gold and eight medals overall, equaling the most ever medals won in a single Olympiad.

His face was everywhere you looked: on NBC’s endless promotions for the Games, swimming “laps” for VISA from Greece to the Statue of Liberty and back (an idea possibly lifted from the Beatles’ movie, “Help”); on countless other print and TV ads; smiling at you from every conceivable page of every newspaper in the land; on the cover of SI, Time, Parade; and on and on.

He was everywhere!

It was impossible to escape. It didn’t matter if you switched channels on your TV, the local, national and international reporters would be talking about Michael. Turn on your radio and even the sports talk shows, whose hosts are only dimly aware of any sport beyond baseball, football, basketball, hockey and golf, and it was all Michael. All the time. Not M.J., but M.P.

There was no escape.

The hype was shameless, expectations simply gargantuan. No, Spitzean. How many gold would Michael win? Seven, tying Mark Spitz’s mythic record of seven gold (and seven world records) at the ’72 Games, arguably the greatest feat in Olympic history? Eight? Nine?

In the water and out, young Michael Phelps, seemingly blissfully unaware of the burden placed upon his broad shoulders, remained himself, an extraordinary, once-in-a-generation talent who was also a respectful, hip, 19-year-old kid. A kid, just like a million other kids who was into video games, Eminem and his Escalade. He was no brash, trash-talking braggart.

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Young Swimmer Obstacles – Kaitlin Sandeno

The Sandeno File

Name: Kaitlin Sandeno
Date of Birth: March 13, 1983
Height: 5-7
Parents: Tom and Jill
Siblings: Amy and Laurlyn
Brothers-in-Law: Mike and Steven
Nieces and Nephews: Michael, Thomas, Luke, Sarah and Max (on the way)
High School: El Toro, Class of 2001
College: University of Southern California
Age Group Team: Nellie Gail Gators
Current Team: Trojan Swim Club
Coaches: Renee and Vic Riggs, Nellie Gail Gators; Mark Schubert, Trojan Swim Club
Favorite TV Show: “The OC”
Favorite Movies: Comedies
Favorite Music: Hip-Hop
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Dessert: Frozen Yogurt
Free-time Activities: Shopping and going to the beach
For 21-year-old Kaitlin Sandeno, life is good.

Fresh off the meet of her life at the Olympic Games, where her four swims yielded a tidy little royal flush of sorts, a gold, silver, bronze and fourth-place finish, she laid claim, during the eight-day competition, to being one of the most versatile female swimmers in the world.

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Swimming Technique top two backstrokers routine

With arguably the world’s top two backstrokers, Aaron Peirsol and Lenny Krayzelburg, likely to be training together at Irvine Novaquatics a couple of ¬†years ago, Coach Dave Salo was excited about what should be an exceptional summer leading up to the Olympics.

Dave Salo wwas the first to tell you that that summer was different from all the rest. Let’s rephrase that: “It will be an exceptional summer,” Salo said from his office at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Salo, who coaches the Irvine Novaquatics swim team, will be in high gear this summer as he prepares his swimmers for Olympic Trials in July at Long Beach. Not that Salo is a stranger to the routine. He’s been placing athletes on the Olympic team since Barcelona in 1992, including medalists Amanda Beard, Jason Lezak and Aaron Peirsol. This time, however, ah, there’s the rub.

It was Salo who coached backstroker and world record holder Peirsol in his high school and age group years and is one of the big reasons why he won a silver medal in the 200 meter backstroke in the 2000 Olympics in Australia.

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