Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

Michael Phelps

The joke, oft told after he won a record eight gold medals at Beijing's Water Cube, is that he's more dolphin than man. And it's true that Phelps, with his oddly long torso, size-14 feet and nearly inhuman appetite (on intense training days, he consumes 8,000 to 10,000 calories), possesses a body uniquely equipped for the water. In an era when many athletic records are tainted by doping scandals, Phelps subjected himself to extra testing to prove he was clean. He embodied the Olympic spirit in another way: he pledged to use the $1 million he got from the makers of Speedo to start a foundation to help kids succeed in the swimming pool and beyond.

John Cloud

See pictures of Barack Obama's college years.