Woodbridge High swim staff shares stories on a day in the life of a swimmer, story of Michael Phelps life out of the pool

Woodbridge High boys Swim head coach James Hickson and the story of Michael Phelps


Curtis Luong

Woodbridge Swim practice daily in preparation for a swim meet.

The cold clear water splashing, teammates cheering, coaches yelling, buzzer buzzing. These are the sounds swimmers hear on a weekly basis. 

Practice five days a week, meets every Wednesday, having to have the fastest times to be on top. Being a swimmer is more pressure than people assume. Swimming is often stereotyped as one of the easiest sports known to the world. 

However, this is not the case. Much pressure and stress is put onto swimmers no matter if they are swimming in high school, college or even professionally. 

According to CNN former Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps has suffered from depression during his professional career. In an interview where he was asked what it takes to be a champion he said, “Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression.” 

Due to thousands, maybe even millions of people counting on him to dominate in his swimming events as he usually does, it seems as if the pressure of possible failure impacted him. Swimming like other individual sports such as bowling, golf, tennis as well as track and field have much more pressure on the athletes especially with the greats like Tiger Woods in golf, and Serena Williams in Tennis along with Usain Bolt in track and field and Michael Phelps himself in swimming. 

In these sports, mainly professionally, the only ones who can be blamed for failure are the athletes alone. However, in team sports such as basketball, football and baseball there is more to blame as these sports contain a whole team along with a whole coaching staff and front office resulting in less pressure on the athletes

In a 2004 article by CBS Michael Phelps was sentenced to probation due to driving under the influence. In fall of 2008, there was also a photo taken of Michael Phelps with illicit drugs. 

However, as there seems to be many negatives there are many positives in swimming. As Phelps did suffer from depression, when he finally retired, even before he retired, he was often referred to as the greatest Olympian the world has ever seen. 

He has 28 medals in total, with 23 of them being gold which is more than double the amount of his nearest rivals. No other swimmer has managed to even have more than 6. At the young age of just 15 Michael made it to the Sydney 2000, the Summer Olympics in the year of 2000 which occurred in Sydney Australia. 

He finished 5th. 

In an interview with the head coach for our schools Varsity boys swim team James Hickson he shared how he grew up with the sport of swimming and his best times when he was a swimmer, “I swam for Woodbridge High School. Swimming Coach was actually my very first job when I was 15 years old.” 

He shared how he grew up in the Woodbridge area and started coaching for a community team here in Woodbridge until he was 16 and has been coaching for swimming since, “I just really love the sport of swimming hoping to help younger swimmers get water safe first and then just build a passion for swimming.” 

Hickson also shared his best event as a swimmer with it being his fastest time ever. He was swimming 100 yards of backstroke, getting the impressive time of 50.8 seconds. 

Hickson and the boys swim team are off season. The next season will start in spring of 2023.

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