Michael Phelps wannabe making a big splash in the States
Ten-year-old Ariel Spektor seems to be on his way to be the next Michael Phelps. At the age of eight he had broken Phelps’ records when he was that age. Ever since then it has been an upstream battle to beat his idol.
“This is me and Michael Phelps [in this photo]. When I was in camp, I wasn’t kicking well, and he told me that if I wasn’t going to start kicking harder, he was going to jump in and grab my legs,” recalls Ariel Spektor.
The man who discovered the young talent was a former Olympian himself – Felix Filimonov.
“When I first met the family, his mother said: We want to teach him how to swim, but he is only four years old, and he will only go in the jacuzzi,” laughs Ariel’s coach Felix Filimonov. “So for four months, all summer, when it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the air and in the water, I taught him how to swim in a jacuzzi.”
Starting at the age of four, by six he was already the Mid-Atlantic champion.
“So from then on, he got used to winning,” says Ariel’s coach. “If, God forbid, he doesn’t win, that’s it! It’s all tears. His mom’s tears, his father’s tears… everyone’s tears.”
So far, Ariel’s mother doesn’t have too much to cry about, but that doesn’t stop her from worrying every time her son dives into the pool.
“I became really sensitive. I can’t talk about it, when I’m at the swim meet I’m nervous. I think I’m more nervous than he is,” confesses Ariel’s mother.
Ariel’s family is willing to sacrifice much more than emotions to fulfill the dream.
Anna Spektor says that “All our life now is around the swimming, swim practice and training. It’s not only about the training, it’s also about feeding him right, to exercise right.”
Ariel’s routine is something not every young boy, no matter how talented, would be able to handle.
“Each morning I get up at five. We go to practice, which starts at 6am. Then, after that, I have school. And then around 6 pm each day, I have a practice until around 8pm. That’s basically each day,” explains Ariel.
In a sport where size does matter, the tiny swimming sensation appears to be breaking the mold.
Ariel’s friends, family, and community come to the competitions to cheer him on hoping he breaks yet another swimming record. The next big step is likely the Olympics, a dream that Ariel thinks about every time he comes up for air.
“My goal is to make it to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil,” states Ariel Spektor.