For any student currently attending Palo Alto High School, Michael Phelps has competed in every Summer Olympics that they have ever been alive for and potentially watched.
With 23 gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals, Phelps has set the record as the most decorated Olympian in history by a comfortable margin. He was a part of all three relay events for the U.S. in the last four Olympics in which he competed in.
Now, however, the legendary swimmer has decided to move on from swimming to normal life. That being said — what comes next for the United States swimming team now they have lost their most valuable asset? They must find a way to make up for the loss of a record holder in multiple events as well as replace a leg of all three of their relays.
There is always a possibility that a new swimmer could rise out of the ranks of the normal citizens and come to replace Phelps, but the possibility is very slim.
Twelve-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte plans on returning for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Unfortunately, he is currently suspended from competing in U.S. swimming due to his high-profile robbery scandal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
There were rumors that Lochte was going to be banned from the sport forever, but it can be assumed that due to his success in the sport he was treated less harshly than he would have been if he were a lesser-known swimmer. Luckily, his suspension ends this coming July so he will have plenty of time to train, prepare and compete before the next Olympics.
Katy Ledecky, the new face of U.S. swimming will return for the 2020 Games. The dominant swimmer is a gift to the team that will keep on giving. At the Rio Games in 2016, Ledecky set the world record in the women’s 800-meter freestyle as well as the world record in the women’s 400-meter freestyle.
At Palo Alto High School, there are a couple potential current and past students that could be present at the next Olympics.
Although Ledecky is an important returning swimmer, her return does not solve the problem of Phelps’ retirement from the men’s team.
There is always a possibility that a new swimmer could emerge and come to replace Phelps, but that possibility is very slim. Seeing as Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time, it is highly unlikely that anyone will be able to do what he has done.
Along with the slim possibility of any swimmer in the world in the future comparing to Phelps, there is an even lower possibility that this swimmer would swim for the U.S. team or even be from the country. Despite the unlikeliness, there are a couple potential current and past student swimmers at Palo Alto High School that could be present at the next Olympics, with the opportunity to live up to the Phelps legacy.
The two Liang brothers, Andrew and Alex, have proved to be dominant in the sport of swimming. Both brothers attended the 2016 Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb. and will be swimming at Stanford University next year. Alex, the younger of the two, holds two state records in high school swimming.
Maybe the replacement for the great Michael Phelps lies within the ranks of our small city. The 2020 Olympics will show whether U.S. swimming has rested solely on the shoulder of Phelps, or if the team will be able to step up and move on without him.