From the Chapter…
“The last three months of my life have been some of the hardest times I’ve ever gone through, some of the biggest learning experiences I’ve ever had…I’m looking forward to having a much brighter future than I had in the past.” — Michael Phelps, December 2014
Swimming is a poor substitute for living. In the florescent bathroom light there are no shadows, no dry warmth, no belonging. When you’re in the water long enough, not only do you eventually lose the feel for it, you start to lose the feel for everything. It’s like slipping. Fear starts to creep in, then resentment, then hatred. What do you hate? The world. Yourself. What more than that?
The dirty secret of professional sport is that the top athletes hate what they’re doing. Oscar Pistorius hated it, O.J. Simpson hated it. Many elite athletes privately profess to hate the daily grind involved. Who would enjoy the intensity of that struggle day in and day out?
There’s nothing noble about complaining in public about how cold the water is or how your shoulders ache, or how much your old man potentially fucked up your life. And sponsors don’t abide that kind of unheroic conduct. It’s honest but it’s uninspiring. The real trick is to be honest and inspired. But in a real sense, when the stakes are as high as they are for the likes of Phelps and Le Clos, the person disappears behind the brand, and silently self-destructs behind the façade. Yes, even Olympic champions, even the most decorated Olympic champion in history.
Lauer asked [the 22-time Olympic medallist] if he considered himself an alcoholic. When Lauer asked [Phelps] if he viewed the time of his arrest as a “cry for help,” Phelps answered, “I believe so. Yeah. I really do.”
Really? Did Michael see himself as an alcoholic?
To read more…
HOT WATER by Nick van der Leek is available on Amazon
Hear more about the book and the inspiration behind it…