Four swimming greats critique Michael Phelps's strokes
"He's a canoe with oversized oars," says 1992 fly gold medalist Pablo Morales. "I like to say he 'holds water'—with each stroke there's no slippage or air bubbles. He's the best example of the latest evolution of the fly: He keeps his head low and chin down, with less undulation of the body than we used to have. And he's really a machine; one stroke leads to the next with no pause in between."
"What's not to like?" asks 1984 freestyle gold medalist Rowdy Gaines. "His stroke is close to classic. He gets power from his torso and hips; he has tremendous body rotation, and his hips set up his stroke. I've never seen a swimmer with such confidence when he walks to the blocks. He's like a shark feeding off his victims' fear."
"He's already much better than I was," says 1976 Olympic champ John Naber. "His reach is remarkable, he has good hyperextension in his elbows, and he maximizes the time his hands are underwater. His turns, pacing and body position are excellent. His head position is so straight and steady he could balance a full shot glass on his forehead without spilling a drop."
"This may be his fourth-best stroke, but I don't see much wrong says 1960 breast gold medalist Bill Mulliken. "Some breaststrokers come way out of the water; he stays flatter. He keeps his hips up and doesn't waste motion. He needs to clap his feet together on his kick, however, to finish his stroke."