Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Breakfast with Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is the biggest name in American Olympic athletes since Carl Lewis. Competing in his third Olympics, Phelps has won eleven gold medals. In 2008 alone he is aiming for eight, and has won five in his first five races.

But how does this top swimmer fuel his drive for Olympic gold? Bob Costas and NBC recently revealed the swimmer's breakfast regimen which astonishingly includes:

Three fried-egg sandwiches
cheese
lettuce
tomatoes
fried onions
mayonnaise
an omelet
a bowl of grits
three slices of French toast with powdered sugar
half a dozen chocolate chip pancakes
a bag of oats
two whole cantaloupes
two bowls of colon blow cereal
a bowl of slow whipped ice cream covered in Magic Shell
1 liter of Gator-Ade
six strips of hickory smoked bacon
a jawbreaker
a handful of flaxseed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts
two slices of mom's left-over meatloaf
cold pizza
a few plantains
ants on a log
can of frosting
box of ego waffles topped with butter, whipped cream, and strawberry syrup
horse vitamins

All polished off with a cold glass of milk!

This high calorie, high carbohydrate, high fat, high protein diet has been genetically matched to Phelps' metabolism, to provide optimum calorie to energy ratio which allows him to maintain an absolute minimum of body fat, grow zero body hair on his back, torso, legs, fingers, toes, face, and ears, and evolve into some kind of half man half seal-like creature.

The huge front-loaded diet also allows Phelps to stay in the pool for 16 hours a day, never having to stop for a moment to replenish essential vitamins and minerals.


"When you're going for eight gold medals, against the fastest swimmers in the world, ever, every second of training counts," Phelps explains.

This high powered intake allows Phelps to run through a brutal daily training regimen involving such draconian methods as tying on heavy ankle weights while he swims and pulling pianos around through the water as he does his laps.

"Sometimes I'll swim a dozen laps or so just using my left pinky, or perhaps only wiggling my ears," Phelps explains. "In world class swimming, there are no useless muscles."

Just the other day Phelps not only eclipsed his best time in the 200 meter freestyle, but did it while helping his mom move out of her apartment, changing his own oil, and mountain biking with Lance Armstrong.

Every day for the last 16 years Phelps has been awakened from bed by the sound of a starting horn. The pitch and timbre perfectly match the ones used in the Olympic games. He immediately dives into a pool and begins swimming 48 laps. Meanwhile a team of scientists and chefs prepares his breakfast. The early morning swim is designed to warm Phelps up for the day while burning off any fat build up from the previous night's sleep.

Eight hours of sleeping, eight hours of inactivity, can increase your BMI by as much as a tenth of a percentage. Such numbers could mean the loss of a fraction of a second, the difference between a win or a loss in a swimming race.

When the 48 laps are completed, usually in or around five minutes, Phelps swims to a holding tank where he eats his massive breakfast while treading water.


Phelp's coach Bob Bowman also trains racehorses, and the approach he has taken with Phelps is similar. Racehorses need to get a feel for the track, in the same way Phelps must become completely acclimated and accustomed to the water. Thus he remains in the pool for 16 hours a day. Horses also must be raced alongside other horses, to get a taste of competition. The issue with Phelps was that no other human could match his speed or endurance in the pool.

"We brought in college swimmers as volunteers, just to put Michael through the paces," Bowman said. "We'd sub them out every two minutes or so. But they were leaving by ambulance exhausted."

After that Bowman switched from humans to a mammal better adapted to the water: the bottle nosed dolphin.

"We tried seals and sea lions," said Bowman, "But they couldn't hang with Michael long enough. Then we bought some dolphins and brought them in."

But this also proved problematic as the dolphins had to periodically come up for air, thus slowing their lap times and throwing Phelps off.

Desperate, Bowman hit on an idea.

"The mako shark is the fastest fish we could find," Bowman explained. "As a fish it doesn't have to come up for air. It knifes through the water at speeds of up to 60 mph. We let them chase Michael around for a few hours. That really develops his fast-twitch muscle fibers."

By the end of the day Phelps is allowed to emerge from the swimming pool, his body ripped and streamlined, every muscle honed to perfection, his skin now a rubbery water resistant material which literally slips through the pool. His sleep, like his stroke, is powerful yet effortless. He slides into bed, conked by a day in which he may have swam up to 30 miles at breathtaking speeds, shattered no less than a dozen records, and rewritten the laws of thermodynamics.

And tomorrow he'll do it all over again.

1 comment:

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