Phelps was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He has two older sisters named Whitney and Hilary. Both of them were swimmers as well, with Whitney coming close to making the U.S. national team for the 1996 Summer Olympics. In his youth, Phelps was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He started swimming at age seven, partly because of the influence of his sisters and partly to provide him with an outlet for his energy. He excelled as a swimmer, and by the age of 10 held a national record for his age group. More age group records followed, and Phelps's rapid improvement culminated in his qualifying for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the age of 15.
As a young teenager, Phelps trained at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under his coach Bob Bowman. At the age of 15, Phelps competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, becoming the youngest American male swimmer at an Olympic Games in 68 years. While he did not win a medal, he did make the finals and finished fifth in the 200 meter butterfly. Phelps proceeded to make a name for himself in swimming shortly thereafter. Five months after the Sydney Olympics, Phelps broke the world record in the 200 meter butterfly to become the youngest man ever to set a swimming world record. At the 2002 Summer Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Phelps also broke the world record for the 400 meter individual medley and set American marks in the 100 meter butterfly and the 200 meter individual medley.
In 2003, Phelps broke his own world record in the 400 meter individual medley, and in June, he broke the world record in the 200 m individual medley. Then on July 7, 2004, Phelps broke his own world record again in the 400 m individual medley during the U.S. trials for the 2004 Summer Olympics. In 2004, Phelps left North Baltimore Aquatic Club with Bob Bowman to train at the University of Michigan for Club Wolverine.
Phelps's dominance brought comparisons to former swimming great Mark Spitz, who won...