No one will be surprised to find out that Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, was a talented swimmer as a kid. Back in 1995, 10-year-old Phelps recorded the year's fastest 100-meter butterfly time for his age class in the U.S.
What may be more surprising is that in the same year, 10-year-old Kris Humphries clocked the fastest times in six different events: 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter butterfly, 50-meter backstroke, 50-meter breaststroke and 200-meter individual medley (the last of which is an event that Phelps has won at the past four Olympics).
Furthermore, the young Humphries registered top-10 times in all nine race categories, including three age-bracket records, two of which – the 50m and 100m freestyle – lasted in the U.S. Swimming's youth national record books for over 18 years. Though his national records have since fallen, Humphries still holds a dozen age-bracket records in the state of Minnesota. And Phelps wasn't the only future Olympian in Humphries' age bracket. Both Ryan Lochte, 12-time Olympic medalist, and Milorad 'Mike' Cavic, who came within 0.01 second of Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly at the 2008 Games, competed in the same age group.
Like another NBA big man, Tim Duncan, Humphries got into competitive swimming because it was the family sport; both followed older sisters into the pool. And like Duncan, Humphries eventually gave up his pool time for court time as he fell in love with basketball.
In Duncan's case, the loss of his hometown pool to Hurricane Hugo and the death of his mother, Ione, played a part in the switch. For Humphries, it was more a matter of following the sport for which he held a passion. As he told People magazine in 2003,
"I was so good at a young age that I got a little burnt out," Humphries said. "I also grew up in the Michael Jordan era ... for me, I watched [basketball] and saw it as a challenge. It's hard to stay focused on something when you have a ton of success at a young age, so I picked up basketball a little later and rolled with that."
Alas. Even as Humphries does magnificent things on a basketball court, he'll never get the chance to prove to the world what he could have been in the pool.
But in the future, if you see Kris posting pool pics on social media like the one below, just know that Kris was way more than an ordinary swimmer back in the day.
He was one of the best schoolboy swimmers ever.
(screenshots from www.usaswimming.org)
Below is a photo posted by Humphries on Instagram, comparing himself to his childhood swimming days.
Story by KL ChouinardTwitter: @KLChouinard