Introduction to Michael Phelps Swim Method

Swimming Skills

Core Skills and
Common Stages


Learn to Swim
Instructional Products


History of Michael Phelps Swimming

Level 1

Get Wet: Splash

Level 2

Pre-Beginner: Float

Level 3

Beginner: Swim

Level 4

Advanced Beginner: Train

The Michael Phelps Foundation

The Michael Phelps Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthy and active lives, especially for children. Its signature program, the IM program, encourages increased participation in health and fitness activities, and personal empowerment through Michael’s inspiring message of Dream, Plan, Reach. Michael established the Foundation in 2008 with his $1 million bonus for winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

Michael Phelps Swim School:

The foundation of this program launched nearly 30 years ago, under the name North Baltimore Swim School (NBSS). Leveraging her degrees in child psychology and early childhood education, Cathy Bennett developed a program that focused on comfort and feeling-of-the-water.

Over the years, the program has continuously evolved to match the changing needs of the students, while keeping up with the latest research and trends in child safety and health.

In 2009, Michael Phelps returned to Baltimore, with Coach Bob Bowman, and began to invest in his dream to grow the sport of swimming and get more children in the water. He teamed up with NBSS to grow the program and offer best-in-class instruction.

“If you want to be the best,
you have to do things other
people aren’t willing to do."
- Michael Phelps

MICHAEL PHELPS SWIMMING focuses on the Four B’s at every stage:

BREATH CONTROL – The goal is to incorporate smooth, rhythmic breaths at regular intervals. This involves understanding the need to take the breath before it is needed; a quick inhale into the lungs and then a slow steady exhale (humming technique). This skill is often introduced with bobbing face-to-face then submerging.

BUOYANCY – This is the power to float or rise in water and is affected by individual body types and the amount of oxygen in the lungs. This essential element of swimming focuses on the shift of the center of gravity from the body’s “core” on land to the sternum (lungs) in the water and how that is the fulcrum to keep the whole body on the surface (positive buoyancy).

BODY POSITION – This involves the ability to hold/move one’s body through the water in the most efficient way with least amount of resistance. The ultimate focus is on mastering the streamline position, as it’s the foundation for all swim strokes. A good streamline position is the foundation that’s needed for the most efficient strokes and kicks to move through water.

  • Streamlining – arms extended overhead, squeezing ears; hands on top of each other, palms down; legs extended behind, straight and together; head in water, face down, ears submerged.
  • Floating – front float is same as the streamline but the arms and legs are much looser and relaxed; back float has the arms off to the sides with legs loose.

BALANCE – Balance uses both Buoyancy and Body Position to maintain a streamline position. Like riding a bike – it’s an “a-ha!” moment. Once she feels this balance, the swimmer knows she will not fall from the front and back float positions.