When he was only 15, Michael Phelps was already making waves in the world of competitive swimming and keeping his eye on one prize: a gold medal.
Little did Phelps know he would go on to score 18 top Olympic honors. Footage of a June 2001 interview with the Maryland native resurfaced Sunday on Reddit, with the video revealing that he was far from an average teenager.
Sure, he was excited about getting his driver’s permit, but Phelps also had some loftier ambitions.
“My long-term goal is to win a gold medal in Athens and go in more than one event,” he said in the clip. “So I have a lot of goals, but I think I just want to take it day by day.”
Three years later, his words proved prophetic. The then-19-year-old scored six gold medals at the Summer Games in Athens. He next went on to snatch up medals at the following Olympics in Beijing and London, transforming himself from a talented teen into a worldwide sensation dubbed the “Flying Fish” – all before retiring at the ripe old age of 27.
But even before breaking Olympic records, Phelps’s life was far from typical as he trained for greatness.
“I don’t really live the normal life as a teenager,” he said in the 2001 video. “I guess I give up a lot of things, but I mean, I’m getting tons of other things that normal 15-year-olds aren’t getting. I think this is a life that anyone can dream of. I’m definitely loving it.”
As for his ultimate dream beyond winning in Athens?
“Swimming faster,” he said in the clip, laughing.
Consider his mission accomplished.