In some ways, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps represents the difficulties of contemporary American life. A child of divorce (his parents split when he was 9), Phelps was victimized by bullying as a kid. He was also diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and later prescribed Ritalin for the condition.
Now, 14 Olympic gold medals later—16 overall, with six gold and two bronze at Athens in 2004, and a record-setting eight gold at Beijing in 2008 – Phelps has become the poster boy for focus, determination and achievement in the face of tough odds.
Phelps' new book, No Limits: The Will to Succeed, co-authored with Alan Abrahamson, offers insights into the world-class swimmer's early struggles, but it also reveals the secrets to his remarkable athletic success, with Phelps discussing his training regimen, his approach to mental preparation and how it all comes together when he hits the water. The book includes insights about the Beijing Games and the U.S. team, plus plenty of anecdotes about Phelps' family, especially mom Debbie, and his longtime coach Bob Bowman.
Influenced by athletic older sisters, Phelps first swam competitively at age 7, and by age 10 held a record in his age group. He won national swimming awards by the age of 16, and he grabbed international attention in Athens. Beijing, in fact, was only the fulfillment of huge expectations. That he completed his mission with grace and humility under pressure was yet another mark of a champion.
Phelps now receives multimillion-dollar product endorsement contracts and life is good as he continues to promote swimming and ponder his next move at the ripe old age of 23. "So many people along the way, whatever it is you aspire to do, will tell you it can't be done," Phelps writes. "But all it takes is imagination. You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits."