[Michael Phelps] first dreamed of being a world-record holder when he watched his sister Whitney at the 1996 Olympic trials. He was 10, and working on a pile of national age-group records that continues to mushroom. A week before the spring nationals, Phelps matter-of- factly declared he was ready to swim a world record in Austin. That meet had been in his sights since Sept. 20, the day after he finished fifth at the Olympics.
The two had a public snit on the deck at the Meadowbrook Swim Club after Thanksgiving. Phelps balked during a workout, and [Bob Bowman] kicked him out of the pool where the NBAC trains. Phelps, 6 feet 4, 180 pounds and growing, is still polishing his turns, and is a little more than a year removed from breaking the two-minute barrier. He remains amazed at the training schedule of Tom Dolan, the world- record holder in the 400 individual medley.
The spring nationals qualified Phelps for the world championships at Fukuoka, Japan, in July. A Japanese television crew visited Meadowbrook yesterday to film Phelps, who is on course to star at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. His world record came the weekend of Maryland's first appearance in college basketball's men's Final Four and the Orioles' opener, however, and Phelps' celebrity didn't count for much at the Inner Harbor.