Every time he dove into the pool in Beijing, Michael's biggest fans—his mother, Debbie, and two sisters—cheered him on from the stands.
The shock and excitement they experienced may be fading memories, but Michael's mom says she may never fully recover. "I don't think I'll ever come down to earth, I'll tell you that much," Debbie says. "It was an exciting time. It was invigorating. To watch all these athletes do what they did for our country was just incredible."
Not long after Michael swam his way into history books, Debbie, a middle school principal in Maryland, stepped out of the spotlight and returned to her administrative duties. "It's business as usual at Windsor Mill Middle School," she says. "My teachers are teaching, and my children are learning at a very high level."