Phelps' College Town Roots For Its Non-Native Son Michael Phelps has spent much of his training time for the Olympics at Club Wolverine in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor is usually a sleepy town during the summer, but not Saturday night, as fans at the Arena Sports Bar watched Phelps win his record gold.
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Phelps' College Town Roots For Its Non-Native Son

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Phelps' College Town Roots For Its Non-Native Son

Phelps' College Town Roots For Its Non-Native Son

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ROBERT SMITH, host:

For the last four years, Michael Phelps trained for the Olympics in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at Club Wolverine. Ann Arbor is a pretty sleepy town during the summer. But not last night as fans gathered at the Arena Sports Bar. Michigan radio's Tracy Samilton was there.

TRACY SAMILTON: Michael Phelps wasn't born in Ann Arbor. He didn't live here as a kid, and he didn't go to college here. But he spent a lot of time in the pool here. And that's enough for lifelong Ann Arbor residents like Nick Rutin(ph) to claim him as their own.

Mr. NICK RUTIN (Resident, Ann Arbor, Michigan): I'm an Olympics fan, I'm a sports fan, but born and raised in Ann Arbor. So it's really neat to see Michael doing as well as he's doing.

SAMILTON: Many people tonight admit they don't follow swimming. They didn't even know that Club Wolverine, where Phelps trained, is one of the elite clubs in the country. But former high school swimmer Tiffany Baldwin(ph) knew, and she can appreciate more than most what Phelps has done.

Ms. TIFFANY BALDWIN (Resident, Ann Arbor, Michigan): I think it's amazing for any swimmer to be this spectacular all around. Most swimmers only have one event that they do well in.

SAMILTON: Baldwin is too young to remember when Mark Spitz took seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics. But Mark Chapman(ph) was 12 then, and he remembers it clearly. He says seeing that record broken is a good reason to keep his seat at the bar.

Mr. MARK CHAPMAN (Resident, Ann Arbor, Michigan): So absolutely, I mean, that's - I was ready to go but, you know, he's going to swim in about 20 minutes. So I have to stay.

SAMILTON: When the race starts, everyone watches, even those who said they weren't interested in Michael Phelps.

(Soundbite of cheering)

SAMILTON: After the race, people are happy. Nick Rutin says Ann Arbor is on the Olympics map. Tiffany Baldwin hopes her former sport now gets the respect it deserves. And Mark Chapman is just glad he stayed.

Mr. CHAPMAN: You want to see history, you know, when somebody does something like that. So, yeah, I was glad I was here. And, you know, I could have watched it at home, but it was much more exciting here.

(Soundbite of cheering)

SAMILTON: Ann Arbor is going to lose its non-native son. Michael Phelps is going back to his hometown of Baltimore. But people here are happy for the role their town played in his record achievement. For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton in Ann Arbor.

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