Michael Phelps Sets World Record at 15: This Day in Sports History

Brian Giuffra
Michael Phelps butterfly.
Michael Phelps butterfly. / Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Michael Phelps had already introduced himself to the world by the time March 30, 2001 rolled around, becoming the youngest male to make the U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years when he qualified for the 2000 Olympics. But he truly cemented himself in the swimming community on this day 19 years ago when he set a new world record in the 200-meter butterfly, becoming the youngest swimmer in history to set a world record.

You could argue that was the jumping off point for the most dominant swimming career in history as he went on to win his first world championship in that event later that year, breaking his own record. That became a pattern for Phelps, who broke his initial record seven times. He held the record for 18 years until Kristóf Milák broke it in July 2019.

It's kind of crazy to consider Phelps setting a world record at 15 when most of us were concerned with passing our foreign language class, getting someone to like us or making the varsity sports team. Phelps was concerned with similar things when he was 15, as you can see in an interview below, where he talks about getting his learners permit to drive. However, he also admits his life is nothing like normal 15-year-olds.

Yeah, perspective is sometimes a mind bender.