Michael Fred Phelps was born on June 30, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland, to Fred and Debbie Phelps. The youngest of three children, Michael Phelps and his sisters grew up in the neighborhood of Rodgers Forge. His father, Fred, an all-around athlete, was a state trooper; mother Debbie was a middle-school principal. When Phelps’s parents divorced in 1994, he and his siblings live with their mother, with whom Michael grew very close.
Phelps began swimming when his two older sisters, Whitney (born in 1978) and Hilary (born in 1980), joined a local swim team. Whitney tried out for the U.S. Olympic team in 1996, at the age of 15, but injuries derailed her career. At age 7, Phelps was still “a little scared” to put his head under water, so his instructors allowed him to float around on his back. Not surprisingly, the first stroke he mastered was the backstroke.
After he saw swimmers Tom Malchow and Tom Dolan compete at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Phelps began to dream of becoming a champion. He launched his swimming career at the Loyola High School pool. He met his coach, Bob Bowman, when he started training at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club at the Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center. The coach immediately recognized Phelps’s talents and fierce sense of competition and began an intense training regime together. By 1999, Phelps had made the U.S. National B Team.
At the age of 15, Phelps became the youngest American male swimmer to compete at an Olympic Games in 68 years. While he didn’t win a medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, he would soon become a major force in competitive swimming.
Michael Phelps and Under Armour
Michael Phelps has been an Under Armour endorser since 2010, but of course, he’s only truly in the spotlight quadrennially, during the Olympics. Now 30 years old, the world’s greatest-ever swimmer is making one final Olympic push—for the Rio Games this August.
Under Armour is celebrating its hero’s last stand with a beautiful and brooding ad from Droga5 that focuses on Phelps’s intense training regimen—in other words, everything he’s been doing while outside the spotlight to prepare for those precious moments in the pool.
The most decorated Olympian of all time—with 22 medals in three Olympics, including 18 golds—Phelps certainly looks the part of the aging veteran in the new ad, but he’s clearly not giving his post-30 body a break.
The ad, part of Under Armour’s ongoing “Rule Yourself” campaign, shows Phelps swimming with resistance, lifting weights, carb-loading, taking ice baths, getting barked at by his coach, having restless sleep, and generally looking both determined and haunted by the task ahead of him.
The soundtrack is “The Last Goodbye” by the Kills.