Top positive review
No limits in swimming led to a pretty limited life
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 December 2019
In Johnny Wilkinson book, he comments how he once rung in the New Year kicking goals. He clearly suffered from an obsession which without he suffers. Its not so much a screw loose but something never screwed-in the first place - a desire for living a "normal" life.
Michael Phelps comes across even more outrageously dedicated. Every single day of his life for years on end has been spent in the pool, no matter the weather or indeed his physical health. His coach Bob Bowman comes across as an old school disciplinarian. There are no excuses. Michael Phelps would have made an excellent soldier. He takes orders and follows them to the letter. He sets his goals, he swims, he eats (often the same thing) and sleeps.
This book is a great insight into each of the races he was won at the Olympics, particularly the eight in Beijing but also some in Athens. Each race is highlighted through a longer lens of how he improved his techniques in different styles. The personnel involved in each race and introduced and we get the build up to each race. The event itself, even in retrospect, is written in a nailbiting manner on the page. The build-up of Ian Thorp and for Michael to take part in beating him is really well told. This is a superbly ghostwritten sports biography.
My qualms with the book is we rarely dive beyond the pool. Its heavy on timings/splits and extremely narrow in its Beijing focus. The dedication is inspiring sure but it is also a little disconcerting. Maybe there isn't actually much to say? Phelps parked living for decades to achieve his goals. There wasnt really anything else to talk about and if there was, we certainly don't see it here.
Still it is certainly amongst one of the better sports books out there, particularly amongst a rather wet modern bunch.