After Michael Phelps' another stunning performance in the Beijing Olympics, it is only appropriate we find out what is hiding behind the scenes of his phenomenal swims.

Apart from a great amount of swim practice with his coaches, have you ever wondered what it takes to swim as fast as Michael Phelps?

Well, for starters biology has a lot to do with it.

For example, his ankles bent by 15 percent more than most folks, so one can say he is hyper flexing his ankles.

Not moving too far on the body, his feet are stunning size 49.5 (14) which is quite unusual for someone only 193 cm (6ft 4in) tall.

His legs are quite short in comparison to his upper body, so he can stay afloat in much more streamlined position since his legs are not weighing him down.

As I already mentioned, his trunk is longer than usual and his arm span is over 2 meters which is also unusual for having a height of "only" 193 cm.

And of course his hands have to be quite large, so he pulls large amounts of water with each stroke.

Michael Phelps - why is he better? by Skye Gould/Tech Insider
Michael Phelps - why is he better? by Skye Gould/Tech Insider

The second advantage that helps in breaking world records is the now infamous LZR Speedo body suit.

It is thought that the suit helps cut resistance in some parts of the body by more than 24%.

The LZR Speedo suit is made out of special polyurethane rubber which helps them glide in the water. It is thought that the overall speed gain is about 2%.

However, that being said, most of the top swimmers these days have access to one, so apart from some sponsorship issues, this is really not an advantage over the entire swimming field, more just over the past world records.

It could be speculated that this suit helped form 56 new world records this year already.

However, beware, small advice here. If you are not a top-notch swimmer who is going to be breaking world or country records, you might want to reconsider buying one of these LZR Speedo suit bad boys.

The price is quite expensive and what is even more frustrating for a regular bloke is that the suit does not last very long (perhaps 5 swims) and is a horrible task to put on where you can bruise some knuckles :).

If you are into the full body suits, I'd suggest sticking with some cheaper option for now, even from a different brand like TYR and Arena.

Thirdly, after Lance Armstrong, the American public needs another big hero which helps them through the day. So, Michael has the biggest support out there for whatever he does. I can imagine he has the best nutritionist, sports psychologist, doctor etc. etc. which obviously is not taken lightly.

I would be very interested in seeing a comparison between Laszlo Cseh's life and Michael Phelps', that would be some interesting reading.

Well, do not take me wrong, I believe Michael has put in his hard work for sure, he is determined, very talented and he dreams big. Without those characteristics, he would not be where he is, but he does have a little (or more) help out there:).

And here is something for you at the end.

BTW, did you know his middle name was Fred? I'd say he does look more like Fred than Michael.

Swim Advice Topics

Swim Like Michael Phelps (A Champion Is Born And Raised) is part of the following categories: Top Swimmers, Michael Phelps, Olympics

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Comments (1)

Connecticut Swimming said...
During the Olympic Games, Rowdy Gaines did a breakdown of Phelps' body. It is absolutely amazing that he is literally the perfect build for a swimmer! Hmmm...time to look for clones! Excellent breakdown with the post!

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