Michael Phelps Says World Records May Be Unlikely at Tokyo Olympics

Photo Courtesy: Kara Sekenski

Michael Phelps, the owner of the most Olympic gold medals in history, stated in a recent interview with Reuters that the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic means it is unlikely any swimming world records will fall during next summer’s postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo, believing that the swimmers were put at a disadvantage this year with the training limitations.

“There are kids out there who are controlling everything that they can control. They are swimming like they should be, they are lifting,” said Phelps, who set 39 world records during his career.

“But honestly, I think pushing it back by a year throws a bigger loop into it than everybody thinks.

“The best of the best will fight back and you’re going to see some fast swims. But world records? I don’t think so.

“With all these pools being shut down, somebody would have to be damn near perfect for the rest of the preparation to have that chance.”

Perhaps this is Phelps’ way of motivating his fellow peers in the sport that are training for Olympic success, as Phelps was notably one to take these comments personally to drive him to prove his doubters wrong. Phelps had long been known to listen to comments from rivals Ian ThorpeMilorad Cavic and Chad Le Clos, and use them to fuel himself in future racer, ultimately coming up successful each time.

Notably, nine world records fell at the International Swimming League venue last month, albeit in short course meters. Those records may be deemed “soft” by some swimming personalities who believe short course records are easier to break due to the lack of complete focus on that venue in a given year.

Long course is a different animal, and many of the best swimmers at the US Open were off their in-season bests in late November perhaps due to the lack of aerobic training this year with such a long training gap. Michael Phelps seems to believe that the COVID pandemic could have affected how fast the Olympic Games will be next summer.


  1. Aleksandar Tasic

    Ha true for 400IM but would not discount Japanese squad, otherwise, Dressel will cancel you, erase you off the board.

    • Rich Davis

      Aleksandar Tasic can you erase 22 Olympic Gold Medals???? What have you done lately?

    • Julie Tellier

      Rich Davis Phelps is a true sportsman, he would encourage Dressel to take the records from him and congratulate him when he does. But to your point, no one is going to erase Phelps, he’s renowned and not just in the swim community.

    • Paul Anthony

      Aleksandar Tasic The GOAT is just saying it’s hard to prepare given disruptions to training and competition.

  2. avatar

    Many top level athletes are swimming faster because of Covid. Practices have improved with lower numbers in pool as coach have narrowed in on who wants (can) be there, and as we have seen with ISL, swimmers are swimming faster than ever.

    Phelps may be the great swimmer of all time, but he’s not a coach.

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