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After Failing “Last Year,” 16-Year-Old High Schooler Finally Shattered Michael Phelps’ Two-Decade Long-Standing Record

Published 12/21/2022, 8:30 AM EST

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Michael Phelps has achieved almost every possible laurel in swimming that is there in the sport. The G.O.A.T from Baltimore has an enviable record across all swimming disciplines and inspired millions through his indomitable performances. Well, ‘indomitable’ might be a heavy word now since a sophomore at Keller High School near Fort Worth, Texas, broke one such record. Maximus Williamson, aged 16, recently ended a record by Phelps that stood for two decades. What is the record all about, and how did Williamson achieve the feat? Let’s find out.

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Williamson, an Austin native, recently competed at the 400-meter-individual medley for the 15-16-year-old national age group. While swimming for the Lakeside Aquatic Club, Williamson smashed the record by a margin of 2.5 seconds.

Focusing on his goal from last year and finally breaking Michael Phelps’ record


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In 2002, a teenage Michael Phelps competed in the same category and finished the 400-meter medley in 3:42:08. Such was the dominance of that record that it maintained its firm ground despite many attempting to break it over the years. Williamson was one of them, who had previously tried to break the 40-second barrier but was unsuccessful. Speaking to SwimSwam, he said, “Breaking 40 [seconds] was a goal for me. I was so close to it last year … I think that’s what pushed me the most”.

A laser-focused Williamson finished the race in 3:39:83, a good ‘2 seconds and more’ ahead of Phelps. However, he later addressed that breaking the 40 seconds was a bigger aim for him, and he only found out about Phelps’ NAG (National Age Group) last year. Williamson, as a 15-year-old, came very close to the 3:40 mark in 2021, and by doing so, he learned about Phelps’ enviable record. He settled both this time around, by achieving his goal and parallel breaking a cherished record.


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WATCH: The Shocking Moment When Caeleb Dressel Broke The Longest-Standing Record By a Prime Michael Phelps

Williamson’s coach Jamie Schultz said, “Michael Phelps is the most well-known swimmer of all time, so even people who don’t know swimming know Phelps”. Centering on the 16-year-old’s new record, he continued, “To break a 20-year-old Michael Phelps record is truly an extraordinary accomplishment”.

The various records of Phelps that are broken and why are teenagers so much faster nowadays


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Williamson has won many medals for his high school swim team and set several records previously. But this record shined the brightest and brought him into the limelight. Michael Phelps is yet to publicly acknowledge this feat by Williamson.

It isn’t the first time someone younger has broken Phelps’ record. While Phelps has set almost every record achievable (a total of 39), several of them are being broken one by one in recent times. Caeleb Dressel broke his 100m freestyle record at the World Championships, finishing the race in 49.50 seconds. He was 32 milliseconds ahead of Phelps, whose record stood at 49.82 seconds. Hungarian swimmer Kristof Milak also broke a Phelps record when he finished the 200m in a record time of 1:50:73.


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Modern-age teenagers have broken several of his other records. While the reasons are aplenty, better coaching with advanced technology and innovation is the prime reason. In the online world, kids like Williamson are also growing up with a ton of footage of older greats on the Internet. Swimming and any sport are not the same anymore. What more of Phelps’ or any sportsman’s records do you think will be broken soon? Let us know in the comments.

WATCH THIS STORY – From Lactic Acid To Webbed Feet – Here’s How Michael Phelps’ Heart Rate Edges Him Over Other Competitors

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Written by:

Tanmay Roy


One take at a time

Tanmay Roy is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. He has done MBA and B.Tech in Civil Engineering.
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Edited by:

Simar Singh Wadhwa