A Michael Phelps Record Was Unbroken Since 1995 – But Now It’s Been Smashed By A Superhuman Swimmer

As the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps’ status as the world’s greatest ever swimmer appeared to be safe. Now, however, there’s a young pretender on the scene, and he’s showing signs that he could one day eclipse the Baltimore Bullet’s achievements in the pool. Here, then, is a look at Phelps’ career and the new kid tipped to be his successor.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1985, Michael Phelps started swimming aged seven, and within three short years he was smashing American age group records left, right and centre. Subsequently taken under the wing of coach Bob Bowman, Phelps first came to international attention in 2000 when he competed at the Summer Olympics in Sydney. Aged just 15 at the time, the boy from Baltimore placed fifth in the 200m butterfly final.

A year later, Phelps became the youngest world record-breaking male swimmer in history thanks to his 200m butterfly performance at the world trials that proceeded 2001’s FINA World Swimming Championships. At 2003’s edition of the Worlds, meanwhile, he won gold medals in the 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 200m freestyle – the first U.S. competitor to ever achieve such a feat.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was Phelps’ display at the 2004 Olympics that truly turned him into a star, though. His remarkable performance in Athens was, in fact, the second finest display that a single Games had ever seen – only Mark Spitz could lay claim to a more golden Games at that stage. Yes, in Athens the Baltimore Bullet had well and truly lived up to his name, as he shot to six Olympic titles. Phelps even added two further bronzes for good measure – not bad for a 19-year-old.

Phelps went on to amass an incredible 28 Olympic medals in total – all but five of which were gold. In doing so, the swimmer can currently call himself  the most successful Olympian in history. What’s more, Phelps’ eight golds in Beijing 2008 saw him take Spitz’s record for most crowns at a single Olympics. And by winning a silver and five golds at Rio 2016, Phelps became the most decorated athlete at four consecutive Games.

ADVERTISEMENT

Alongside his extensive Olympics medal haul, Phelps has broken all kinds of world records, too. In fact, the superstar swimmer currently holds the fastest times ever times for the 100m and 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley. Phelps is also a two-time winner of the FINA Swimmer of the Year and lays claim to eight separate World Swimmer of the Year crowns. It’s little wonder, then, that he is widely regarded as the greatest swimmer in sporting history.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 2016, though, Phelps finally quit competitive swimming, announcing his second retirement at the end of the Rio Olympics. And away from the pool, the Maryland man has his own young family to raise alongside his wife, Nicole Johnson. The pair married in secret in 2016, shortly after their first child, Boomer, had arrived into the world.  Then, in 2018, they added to their family unit with the arrival of second son Beckett.

ADVERTISEMENT

And Phelps wants to give something back to society, too. In 2008 he set up his eponymous foundation, which promotes swimming as a sport. Meanwhile, he also founded a Boys & Girls Club program championing the need for an active lifestyle. The Olympian is also a board member of Medibio, a company which helps diagnose mental health issues; Phelps himself has previously opened up about his own battles with depression and ADHD.

ADVERTISEMENT

Phelps hasn’t always been an exemplary role model, though. No, in 2004 he was given a probation of one-and-a-half years  after pleading guilty to a DUI. Then, five years later, he was suspended by USA Swimming for three months after he was pictured with a bong. He lost his place at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, too, following another DUI charge.

ADVERTISEMENT

With those controversies behind him, though, Phelps is now helping to coach the swimming team at Arizona State. But it’s out on the West Coast where you’ll find the youngster who is currently making the biggest splash in the pool. And the kid in question has an appropriately superhero-themed name.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yes, in 2018 a ten-year-old boy swam in the 100m butterfly at California’s Far West International Championship. And by doing so in a time of one minute and nine seconds, the up-and-coming swimmer smashed Phelps’ event record – set in 1995 – by one full second. The name of this young swimming star? Clark Kent.

ADVERTISEMENT

Well, Clark Kent Apuada to be precise. And following his historic performance, it should come as no surprise that Apuada has subsequently been labelled ‘Superman’ by the press. What’s more, not only did the youngster surpass Phelps’ performance of 23 years ago, but in doing so he also become a world record holder. And Apuada’s achievement is all the more remarkable for the fact that he only started competitive swimming back in 2014.

ADVERTISEMENT

In fact, after taking up the sport, Apuada had quickly set his sights on breaking Phelps’ record. Indeed, speaking to HuffPost, his mom, Cynthia, recalled, “He’s the one who said, ‘Look, Mom, Michael Phelps has a record in the Far Western. I can beat that.’”

ADVERTISEMENT

And now Apuada has done just that. Swimming for the Monterey County Aquatic Team, the youngster has blown everyone away with his exploits in the pool. In fact, even Michael Phelps was bowled over by Apuada’s time. Yes, after Phelps heard the news that one of his many achievements had been surpassed, he took to Twitter to acknowledge the moment.“Big congrats to #clarkkent for smashing that meet record,” he said, before adding,“Keep it up dude!”

ADVERTISEMENT

One of Apuada’s swimming coaches Dia Riana was keen to sing the young swimmer’s praises, too. In an interview with CNN, Riana said, “This kid is unlike any other young man that I’ve ever coached. He’s always stood out, he’s just, he’s kind of a savant of sorts.”

ADVERTISEMENT

And Apuada’s astonishing early form doesn’t appear to be as a result of pushy parent syndrome, either. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite it seems. Yes, the ten-year-old told CNN that he enjoys being in the pool. Apuada said, “I love swimming because I have a lot of people supporting me. And my coaches are always there for me. And my parents are always there.”

ADVERTISEMENT

What’s more, Apuada even had some advice for those who are keen to harness their own talents. “Dream big,” he told CNN, “Always focus on your dreams and have fun.” But it isn’t just in the swimming pool where the youngster is excelling himself.

ADVERTISEMENT

Indeed, Apuada’s father Chris told CNN that his son also does martial arts, plays the piano and takes a keen interest in science and computing. Meanwhile, another of Apuada’s coaches, Travis Rianda, told CBS that his protégé has several goals he wants to achieve. These include, “[becoming] a scientist, an Olympic gold medalist for the United States, and a black belt.” With Rianda then adding, “He’s on track for all of those things.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Happily, though, young Apuada says he doesn’t feel overwhelmed with all his activities. Speaking to CNN, the young swim star said, “I deal with it really well, I just have to balance.” One way or another, then, it seems that Apuada is destined for a golden future.

ADVERTISEMENT

And that golden future could arrive sooner rather than later. Indeed, Apuada is reportedly aiming to achieve his Olympic ambition at Paris 2024. Failing that, he’ll aim for success at Los Angeles four years later. Speaking to HuffPost, Apuada said, “This record has motivated me to keep swimming, to keep striving and do everything I can to get to that elite level.” It seems, then, that Phelps may well have a genuine contender for his aquatic throne.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT