Michael Phelps' coach's parents speak out in interview - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Michael Phelps' coach's parents speak out in interview

The big story of the games so far has been the gold medal machine Michael Phelps. The guy behind his success first learned how to swim right here in Columbia.

Lonnie and Sylvia Bowman spend a lot of time watching the Olympics from their Columbia home, and with good reason.
    
It's a chance for them to see their son Bob, who just happens to coach the guy with who holds the most gold medals in Olympic history, swimmer Michael Phelps.

"At 8:00, when the finals come on, we've been trying to take in everything that's happening, and it's been very exciting for us," says Lonnie Bowman. 
    
For the Bowmans, seeing Michael's success is the payoff for years of getting up with Bob before dawn and countless hours of driving to swim meets during his childhood years in Columbia.
    
And as surprising as it sounds, Bob almost went for a career in music instead of coaching.

"In fact, he majored in music at Florida State for two years, so I thought he'd go more into music than swimming. But then at Florida State he got more into coaching, so I was surprised. But evidently he found the right path for him," says Sylvia.
    
That path lead to a coaching career at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where Bob first began coaching Michael at the age of eleven. Even then, Bowman knew he was working with someone special.

"In the age group swimming program, he was at the top of the rung at all levels. He knew he was very special at that time," says Lonnie.

Twelve years and 11 Olympic gold medals later, Lonnie and Sylvia say Michael is a down-to-earth team player who doesn't have a swollen head about his accomplishments.

They couldn't be more proud to have their son as a big reason for Phelps' success.

"If there was any goal he wanted to meet, he knew how to get there, and that meant a lot of planning and a lot of hard work. Michael has been really good too, he has the same drive and ambition, and working together they are able to accomplish these really great things so we are extremely proud," says Sylvia.

Reported by Drew Stewart of WIS-TV. Story and video courtesy of WIS-TV.

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