What happens when you take the diametric opposite approach to training? Instead of dumbing-down sport to only one variable, or only the number of variables the athlete or coach can handle; what happens when an athlete and coach duo decide to conquer each and every aspect of the sport that everyone else is training, and… then up the stakes by training additional variables? What happens is that instead of a fierce competitor, you end up with a consistent peak performer who not only medals but makes medaling a verb by becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time: you end up with a Michael Phelps.
Phelps has his coach Bob Bowman to thank: for being a coach who instead of taking the typical approach of most coaches – short cutting the career of an athlete by peaking them for immediate and instantaneous and short-term success to boost their own coaching career and subsequently blowing up, burning out or maxing out the athlete in the process – Bowman trained Michael with the vision of a career that lasted decades, to compete at five (5) Olympics, to being the one to break Mark Spitz’s record of seven (7) gold medals in the sport of swimming. As a result of Phelps competing into his thirties – which was unheard of in the past and believed to be impossible – the example was made for other athletes (e.g. Anthony Ervin, Nathan Adrian, et al) to return to the sport or continue competing in the sport.
As an aside… for those who want to consider calling themselves a coach, Bob Bowman is the template. The challenge if you want to be a coach, target at least Bowman’s level of vision, discipline and dedication, and see if you can take that level to new heights.
The “Wonder from Down Under”, the Thorpedo… Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe’s track record was and still is absolutely incredible:
- 1997 Pan-Pac Champs – two silver medals
- 1998 World Championships – two gold medals, and a 400m FR time of 3:46.29
- 1998 Commonwealth Games – four gold medals, with a new 400m FR time of 3:44.35
- 1998 World SC Champs – two golds, a silver and a WR time of 1:43.28 in the 200m FR
- 1999 Pan-Pac Champs – four hold medals and three WRs: 200m FR, 400m FR and 4x200m FR relay
- 2000 Olympics – 3 gold, 2 silver, 3 World Records [WR]
- 2001 World Championships – 6 gold medals and 4 WRs including a time of 3:40.17 in the 400FR
- 2002 Commonwealth, 2002 Pan Pacs & 2003 Worlds – a total of 14 golds, 3 silver, and 1 bronze
- 2004 Olympics – 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze and an Olympic Record [OR] in the 200m FR
Thorpe was a Freestyle specialist, swimming the 200, 400 and 800m events. During his reign, Thorpe was considered the greatest swimmer of all time.