I just watched a great interview with Debbie Phelps about her son Michael’s ADHD. She said that swimming was a perfect sport for him because the lanes are marked and narrow and there is a “T” on the floor of the pool to follow. She said he is able to be in his element. I think having those narrow lanes and lack of visual stimuli helps Phelps focus even more. I notice that when I swim, the busyness in my head stops. I can truly empty out my brain. I equate swimming to meditation.
Since a characteristic of ADHD is hyperfocusing on an enjoyable activity, this could explain Phelps’ drive and ability to practice day after day.
Phelps listens to music on his iPod all the way up until the start of the race. This helps him focus and blocks out distracting stimuli. The interviewer asked Debbie Phelps if Michael’s hectic schedule in Beijing bothers him. No, Debbie said, it helps him. He likes having that structure. I think a lot of us with ADHD would agree that structure is a great benefit to us.