TritonWear Race Analysis: Michael Phelps Vs. Michael Phelps

Race Analysis

TritonWear is bringing you the best in swimming race analysis. With the power of TritonWear, you can have an in-depth analysis of your practice every day with zero effort. Today we are having a closer look of one of the most impressive swimmers of all times. A man, a Legend: Michael Phelps.

Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time. Over the course of his career he competed at five different Games, earned an astounding 28 Olympic medals (23 of which are gold), and shattered many world records in the process. His accomplishments are unparalleled in the sporting world. 

The 200 M butterfly is Phelps’ signature race. He’s competed in the event at each of the past five Olympic Games: Sydney 2000 where he finished fifth, Athens 2004 where he won gold, Beijing 2008 where he won gold again, London 2012 where he lost to Chad le Clos and settled for silver, and most recently Rio 2016 where he reclaimed the 200 butterfly title with another gold. 

While analyzing metrics here at TritonWear, we started wondering – how would the Phelps of the Rio Olympics compare if he were to race a past version of himself? In the spirit of theoretical epic showdowns, we pitted Phelps against himself in the 200 butterfly in each of his five Olympic Games. Check out the analysis here.

Phelps of 2008, the one that really tore up the record books, is the clear winner in 1:52.03. He split the race exceptionally well, with only a 0.06 drop-off between his third and fourth 50 to bring the race home much stronger than his competitors. He also had the greatest average distance per stroke and efficiency over the 200m race. This was Phelps in his prime.

But interestingly enough, Phelps of 2008 wasn’t the strongest in every metric across the board. Veteran Phelps of 2016 spent the most time underwater – the mark of a seasoned champion. Phelps of 2004 maintained the highest stroke rate on the back half of the race while Phelps of 2012 and Phelps of 2000 were both exceptionally consistent in their stroke rates and stroke counts respectively.

It was the oldest competitor, Phelps of 2016, who took the race out fastest on the first 50 with a blistering 24.85. But his older body couldn’t maintain the pace and he dropped back to bronze medal position at the finish, with the slowest split on the last 50 by a large margin. The youngest competitor, Phelps of 2000, swam the race with an opposite strategy, moving quite conservatively on the front half before turning faster than anyone on the final turn, spending only 0.62 seconds on the wall to somewhat close the gap on his competitors.

Comparing Phelps’ performance metrics at different stages of his career isn’t just interesting – it’s educational. Just think about what you could learn from racing yourself!

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