Patterico's Pontifications


Phenomenal Michael Phelps

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 7:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Mark Spitz won 7 gold medals in Munich in 1972, the most gold medals won by one person in a single Olympics to date. However, America’s Michael Phelps has a chance to surpass that feat in Beijing this year. If he wins 8 gold medals it would give him 14 for his career, also a world record.

ESPN’s Pat Forde lists Phelps’ Olympic events, ranks the difficulty of each, and details the results so far:

Event No. 1: 400-meter individual medley
When is the final: Sunday am in Beijing; Saturday pm in the U.S.
How hard is it: “Third-toughest of Phelps’ eight.”

END RESULT: “Phelps kept pace with teammate Lochte and Hungary’s Cseh during his weakest discipline, the breaststroke, before putting the hammer down in the freestyle to win his first gold of the Games in world-record time (4:03.84). Phelps’ gold count: 1 for 1.”

Event No. 2: 4×100 free relay
When is the final: Monday morning in Beijing; Sunday night in the U.S.
How hard is it: ESPN ranked it as Phelps’ “toughest race of the meet.”

END RESULT: “Michael Phelps almost saw his run end, but Jason Lezak came back in the final leg of the 4×100 relay to help the U.S. men edge France to win gold in world-record time (3:08.24) in one of the most memorable relay races in Olympic history. Phelps’ gold count: 2-for-2.”

Event No. 3: 200 freestyle
When is the final: Tuesday morning in Beijing; Monday night in the U.S.
How hard is it: “Seventh-toughest.”

END RESULT [per DRJ]: Phelps took a commanding lead that he extended to two body lengths at the finish, winning his third gold of the Games in world-record time (1:42:96). Phelps’ gold count: 3 for 3.”

Event No. 4: 200 butterfly
When is the final: Wednesday morning in Beijing; Tuesday night in the U.S.
How hard is it: “Easiest of the bunch.”

Event No. 5: 4×200 free relay
When is the final: Wednesday morning in Beijing; Tuesday night in the U.S.
How hard is it: “Fifth-toughest.”

Event No. 6: 200 individual medley
When is the final: Friday morning in Beijing; Thursday night in the U.S.
How hard is it: “Second-toughest.”

Event No. 7: 100 butterfly
When is the final: Saturday morning in Beijing; Friday night in the U.S.
How hard is it: “Fourth-toughest.”

Event No. 8: 4×100 medley relay
When is the final: Sunday morning in Beijing; Saturday night in the U.S.
How hard is it: “Sixth-toughest.”

Phelps is already a hero to me regardless of what happens in Beijing. Not only is he a repeat gold medalist in more than one Olympics, but the fact that he qualified in several races is evidence of his exemplary ability and discipline.

Here’s your chance to predict Phelps’ ultimate medal count and/or to wish him well.


25 Responses to “Phenomenal Michael Phelps”

  1. At least seven and likely eight. Gotta be proud of this guy. And BTW, Natalie Coughlin took gold today.

    Old Coot (43e1f1)

  2. 7 gold 1 silver. No matter how it plays out, we are fortunate to be able to witness the greatest swimmer ever performing like this on the grandest stage.

    JD (5f0e11)

  3. He got 1st place in the 200 Butterfly qualifying heat.

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  4. I cannot imagine the stamina it must take to keep up with all those difficult events. If they were spaced out a bit more it would be much easier, but he’s competing with people who have far fewer events to recover from.

    I hope to see 8. Even if not, he’s proven he’s the best.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  5. Juan,

    I agree. Phelps has 2 finals tomorrow night and, including prelims, I think he will race 17 times in 7 days against the best swimmers in the world. That’s amazing.

    DRJ (a5243f)

  6. Ocho.

    The fact he set an Olympic record in the qualifying semifinals for the 200 Butterfly is just nuts.

    He did this LESS THAN ONE HOUR after he obliterated history with his Gold in the 200 freestyle today. Dude wasn’t even trying and he set a new OR.

    Ed (841b4a)

  7. AAAAAARRRRGH! I got through all day without hearing that and I was five minutes away from watching it on Tivo! I thought I was safe because of the timestamp…serves me right I guess. Someone should make a ‘Phelps giveaway blocker’ greasemonkey script. Someone other than me.

    Josh (f6ffef)

  8. Sorry, Josh …

    DRJ (a5243f)

  9. My fault, DRJ, thanks though. I’ll just keep my head encased in styrofoam when I’m not watching Tivo for the rest of the week.

    Josh (f6ffef)

  10. Sitting in my living room, reading the blog with all of you and slapping the French, watching the 4×100 relay Sunday night was among the most exciting events I’ve ever watched, and, my athletic history includes participating in the NCAA’s and as a state championship player and coach….maybe it’s just my getting older, and enjoying even more the athletics we see in the world, and maybe it is the reality that we are in a golden age of athletics, with so many sports, and so many outstanding champions, but, that race was as good as any I’ve ever watched….

    He’ll take all 8, with the possible exception that, with what is written above, someone, from somewhere, just steps up and has their own “Olympic Moment”….

    reff (b68a4f)


    reff (b68a4f)

  12. Reff, might be your younger age, but I’d say the most incredible Olympic moment for me was the 1980 Lake Placid upset win by a US college kid team beating an essentially world-class professional level USSR hockey team. David and Goliath stuff.

    Getting 8, like Spitzer’s 7, has to include some unpredictable chain of events completely beyond the individual’s control. It’s the relays. If Lezak didn’t pull off the best 50 of his life, we wouldn’t even be talking about 8. All Phelps could do was scream his lungs out. Read it was just a fingertip that won it. Just amazing.

    allan (799103)

  13. The most incredible Olympic moment???

    The video of the final plays, which in this case shows only two of the three, does give a brief glimpse of the BB official from the United Kingdom who got involved improperly in giving the Russians a third try, saying the clock was not reset properly after the second attempt. ESPN has a brief essay on their documentary, which give a great visual on how all this came about.

    My funny memory of all it was that Hank Iba said he got hit by a pickpocket and had his wallet stolen.

    But, these were the incredible “athletic” moments of those games…there was another, much more tragic, much more incredible, and sad tale from those Munich Games….

    As for my younger age….I was a high school senior in Munich, a college Senior in Montreal…I’ve seen a few Olympics….

    reff (b68a4f)


    Amen brother!

    I’m watching the pairs syncronised swimming because of the Brazilian team…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)


    Fair enough. Carrie Walsh in a bikini is even better.

    JD (75f5c3)

  16. Women’s beach volleyball was just made for prime time television.

    JD (75f5c3)

  17. “Carrie Walsh in a bikini is even better.”

    – JD


    There’s some young Aussie swimmer who looks like Emmy Russom – she’s gorgeous.

    Leviticus (eb0720)

  18. Winning five or seven swimming events is neither an accident nor a near miraculous feat. This is because in swimming (as in no other activity) the swimmer cannot suffer oxygen depletion and therefore rarely gets tired. The has translated into swimming workouts lasting as long as ten hours per day almost every day (as any of you who’ve had a small child in a competitive swim club will attest).

    The only way to stop this subterfuge is to have all finals run consecutively, thus denying the swimmer the short time available to resupply his muscles with oxygen. As a former competitive swimmer myself (before the studies showed that oxygen depletion cannot happen) I often swam four or more events including the 1600 and was never as tired as I’d get running the half mile one time. Check out the interviews: are any of them out of breath?

    howard432 (cc8b85)

  19. LIHOP or MIHOP ?

    I blame Bush.

    JD (5f0e11)

  20. More video of May and Walsh doing the ass slapping thing … plesae.

    Save it. I am already denounced, and, prolly sleeping on the sofa.

    JD (712926)

  21. In the above post regarding “oxygen depletion” the term should be Oxygen Deprivation. It was discovered long ago that a person in water can operate better with low oxygen than with normal. The training for this condition is called hypoxic training and involves conditioning the body to go for long periods of time with extremely low oxygen.

    Duke (cc8b85)

  22. It’s why the anchor swimmer for the relay didn’t take a breath for the last 6 or so strokes… No need, and you go faster…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  23. 2 more in world record times. It really is a joy to watch.

    JD (75f5c3)

  24. I don’t know if the Butterfly was a record, but they brutalized everyone else in the 4×200 free

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

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