I found this interesting note on Washington Stepmothers & 2nd Wives website: http://washingtonsharedparenting.com/wssw/. The stoy is about the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and what can happen to children after divorce and the alienation of one parent from their own children. Life is really not so good for Michael Phelps after all.
I’ve been watching Phelps for years. His mom is NOT athletic looking AT ALL. I’ve been pondering how he became an uber-athlete from a mother like her. (If you study the athletes many of them have one or two very athletic parents, college athletes, former Olympians, etc.) She’s not tall, or svelte like he is. If she swims, its not apparent, she’s more like a pumpkin or an apple. Not willowy. (No offense, just a fact.)
So I started searching for Phelp’s father. There has been literally NO mention of him in Beijing.
Then a few mornings ago I heard Meredith on the Today show say, “Debbie Phelps (mom) did it ALL BY HERSELF.” And that just rubbed me the wrong way. We all know that hardly any of these women are “doing it by themselves….” (they receive huge sums of child support and dad visits EOWE at the minimum.) But they sure do love to take the CREDIT for having been the “poor single muuuuuther”.
I found my answer, and I am extrapolating from it (this article was written prior to Athens Olympics I think)
Apparently I am correct. Its not MOM who is the “athlete” its DAD.
“Fred was a 165-pound defensive back in high school, but went 190 as a college freshman. He said he didn’t need the extra weight to leave an impression.”
“At Fairmont State College in West Virginia, Fred studied physical education and set school records for interceptions in a season and, after he was steered to track and field by a football assistant, the triple jump.”
Michael Fred Phelps II (yes named after DAD) has two older sisters, Whitney and Hilary who were both swimmers first. Michael grew up at the pool watching the sisters.
According to sister Hilary:
“When we started, my dad would be up at 4 a.m. on the mornings I had 5:30 practice,” Hilary said.
“Whitney, 23, accepted a scholarship to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, competed sparingly there as a freshman and sophomore, then ended her career. She returned to the area in late summer, lives with her father and stepmother, Jackie.”
“Father and son, both proud men, one 53 and the other 18, have not spoken since Michael’s high school graduation party. Whether real or perceived, slights had been simmering.
Fred remarried one week before the 2000 Olympic final in the 200 butterfly. He and Jackie went to Sydney, where Fred had a pep talk with Michael after the semifinals. They went to the Duel in the Pool, but not to Barcelona for this summer’s world championships, where Michael’s status covered some of the travel expenses for Debbie and Hilary.
Overseas trips are costly, but Fred also did not go to the U.S. Summer Nationals in College Park last August.
Both say calls to the other have not been returned.
“There are reasons, and I really don’t want to get into that,” Michael said, when asked about being estranged from his father. Pressed, Michael said: “He didn’t call me after I set my first world record [in 2001]. He didn’t call me after Barcelona.”
“Two days after he graduated,” Fred said, “he said he didn’t want me to go to Barcelona because I hadn’t been around. This is his world, and I’m just watching him travel through it. People ask me how he’s doing, where he’s swimming next, and it’s hard to say that I don’t know.”
This all comes from the article above.
Here’s my theory on this, knowing what I know as a second wife and dealing with severely PASed children. Debbie spent the years post divorce PASing this kid. Once he turned 18 he shut dad out and it was encouraged. It didn’t help that dad finally remarried and Mom hadn’t. So her son, her baby boy sided with her and turned on his dad.
I read somewhere else that Fred Phelps was there at practice when Michael’s his coach said, “if Michael will focus he can go on to the Olympics” (this happened after he won a race at 11…the divorce was at 8 yrs. so dad was THERE, involved STILL at 11 yrs.)
Dad wasn’t a deadbeat or absentee, there’s a campaign going on against him to erase his MAJOR contribution. Without DAD, I don’t think there would be a Michael Fred Phelps II. KWIM? And yet he gets NO credit. None.
I’m not debating that Phelps had to practice and work hard to get where he is, and without a doubt he’s a super athlete, but there is certainly a genetic component as well as the support of family too.
What’s your take on this? Where’s Phelp’s dad? Even if he stopped visiting, was it because he WANTED to or because mom made him so miserable all the time that he couldn’t/didn’t want to deal with the stress? It appears that he tried to be involved with the kids. I’d sure like to know more about this story. How about you?
Fred Phelps, what’s your story? I sure would like to hear DAD’s side of things…..