The GOAT’s mom is asked constantly for the secret to success.
Parents parent, coaches coach, and swimmers swim.
We saw Debbie Phelps during all of Michael’s Olympic appearances: along with Michael’s sisters, and in with Rio his wife and son Boomer, up in the stands, watching nervously in the way that only parents watch: with white knuckles, screams and tears.
She was there the first time he broke a world record in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2001. Naturally, she was ringside for the triumph in Beijing. She was there for Michael’s “so-so” performance in London, and of course, the swan song at the Olympic Games in 2016.
Debbie Phelps raised the winningest Olympian in the history of the Games, along with his two sisters, as a single mother in Maryland. Michael, the youngest, quickly took up swimming at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club where his sisters trained. It was there that his partnership with his life-long coach Bob Bowman would form.