Michael Phelps begins celebrating victory 20 meters before finish line

RIO DE JANEIRO (The News Desk) — Decorated U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps shocked crowds at the Summer Olympics on Wednesday when, in the final stages of the men’s 200-meter butterfly final, he lifted his arms and body out of the water in an electrifying mid-sprint celebration.

“I think this shows you that Michael is really trying to enjoy himself out there—while still managing to blow away the competition,” said retired Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe.

“Most people would be crazy to start fist-pumping and shouting an entire 20 meters before the finish line in an Olympic final. But Michael Phelps is not most people.”

Phelps told reporters that the celebration happened completely spontaneously.

“I didn’t really plan it, no. Something just came over me, and before I knew it I was looking at the clock with both my arms pumping in the air with 20 meters left to go.”

Not everyone was taken with Phelps’ act, however.

“Phelps may have just squandered his best opportunity to blow the existing world record out of the water,” wrote Mavis Battersby of the Milwaukee Sentinel.

“He gave all of that up for a few seconds of self-glorification. It’s a real shame.” ♦

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