Ripple Effect

Michael Phelps has a chance to make swimming history this summer. But can he make swimming matter?

Originally Published: January 19, 2004
By Eric Adelson | ESPN The Magazine
The name has come up only once, on a bus in Japan nearly three years ago. Michael Phelps had just broken his second world record, in the 200 butterfly. He was 16. After accepting all the congratulations, taking all the media's questions and rinsing out all the chlorine, Phelps boarded a Team USA bus and fell into the seat next to his coach, Bob Bowman. For a moment, the two sat in their usual comfortable quiet. Then Phelps turned and asked, "Who is Mark Spitz? What did he do?"

Eric Adelson | email

ESPN The Magazine
Eric Adelson was a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.