Phelps and Hoff: Two Baltimore athletes you may not know today…but you will know them in August

June 30, 2008 |

I was pleasantly surprised to turn on the radio after a grueling coaching session to hear Rob Long talk about Michael Phelps. Everything he said about him was 100% true. To paraphrase: if there’s someone else out there who was ever better at swimming than Michael Phelps, I’d like to see him. Michael Phelps is a bad man…

Yes, he is. Who else can run underwater 50 meters with a 50 pound medicine ball and not take a breath?

I’ll go ahead and say that he is the best ever. Better than Spitz. And he’s just as dominant, if not MORE dominant, than Tiger Woods.

I recently posted a blog campaigning for Michael Phelps to get into the KOBS tournament. Many of you rashly explained to me that this contest was about “team sports,” and that Phelps did not belong in the discussion. Even if you somehow think that swimming isn’t a team sport, let’s remember that this contest is not titled “The King of Baltimore Team Sports.” With that said, let’s recall that:


  1. Swimming is a team sport. I have swum competitively for 17 years. I coach a rec. league swim team. I follow the sport religiously. It is a team sport. You cannot convince me otherwise.
  2. Let’s not forget about Katie Hoff.

Hoff, like Phelps, is a Baltimore-bred swimmer from North Baltimore Aquatic Club. While I had the opportunity to train with Michael at NBAC, I never had the chance to swim with Hoff. She holds the world record in the 400 meter individual medley (I.M.) and the American record in the 200 I.M.

Oh, by the way…she’s only 19.

She just broke the world record in the 400 I.M. last night in Omaha at the US Olympic Trials. Needless to say, she qualified for the Beijing Games.

She made her debut at the age of 15 in the 2004 Athens Games, where she had a less-than stellar performance. There were accounts of her puking before races…but who wouldn’t? Can you imagine what it would be like to be an Olympic medalist hopeful at the age of 15? Afterwards, she claimed six gold medals in the 2005 and 2007 World Championships, and is poised to win at least three in Beijing.

I understand that many of you may not be fans of swimming, and for obvious reasons…I’ve swum all my life and, even for me, it is truly painful to sit through a 1,000 yard freestyle race (until the last 50 yards). But even during those races, the camaraderie for one’s own countrymen is purely evident, just as it is in international soccer matches. 

It would be foolish for us to not recognize these two athletes. They not only represent Baltimore, but also the United States of America, to the fullest extent in the world of sports…being from Baltimore is just another reason to watch them pummel the rest of the world in August.

Do yourself a favor and try to catch some of the Olympic trials…I never thought I’d like soccer, but I just bought my first jersey and am slowly acclimating myself to the game. Who knows? Try something new! You might actually like it.