Michael Phelps has already become history's most decorated Olympian, and swimming scholars will inevitably analyze his times and technique for years to come. But exactly how far has Phelps come from his humble roots? We got our hands on some meet results from 1995, when he was nine years old. How much faster is today's adult Phelps than than the child version? Even more importantly, how well would nine-year-old Michael Phelps have fared at this year's Olympics?
We have results from three races Phelps swam at that 1995 meet: the 100 breaststroke, 200 freestyle, and the 50 butterfly. The 50 butterfly isn't an Olympic event, so we'll use his split time from the 200 IM; he hasn't competed in breast at the Olympics, so we'll use his 400 IM split, and he gave up his 200 free spot, so we'll use his split from the 4x200 free relay. (No, that's not really how it works, but we're having fun here.)
If nine-year-old Michael Phelps had competed in the event this year, he would have finished 30 seconds behind the slowest swimmer in qualifying.
Nine-year-old Phelps would have finished 25 seconds behind the worst Olympic competitor.
Little Phelps is again way behind the competition here, as his first IM leg would reach the wall six seconds after the next-slowest competitor.
What does it all mean? Not much, but it's fun to compare numbers and see how far Michael Phelps has come over the past near-20 years. There's still more Phelps to come, and it's worth enjoying.
Update: For those asking, these are 50 LCM times. NBAC is a big-boy organization and they hold meets in an Olympic-size facility. They aren't 50 yard times or times on a 25m course.
For a handy master schedule of every Olympic event, click here.