On Sunday, July 29, at the Far Western Long Course International Championship in California, a young swimmer broke a 23 year-long record set by multi-decorated Olympiad Michael Phelps.
The 10-year-old budding athlete is a Filipino-American boy named Clark Kent Apuada, who has been nicknamed "Superman" because he shares the superhero's human alter ego name. However, he may have more in common with the Kryptonian.
Clark, who competes for the Monterey County Aquatic Team in Salinas, California, collected first-place medals in all seven swim events that he participated in that day. His most impressive win was the 100-meter butterfly, which he finished at one minute, 9 seconds and 38 milli-seconds (1:09:38).
Clark broke Phelps's 100-meter butterfly record, which was one minute, ten seconds and 48 milli-seconds (1:10:48) in the same category of boys age 10 and under in 1995. It remained the record to beat for 23 long years, until Clark's win in July.
Even more impressive is that Clark had only started training and swimming competitively four years prior, when he was age 7.
Cynthia Apuada, Clark’s mother, told The Huffington Post that the oldest of her three children seems to be "living by his name" now that he is regarded as "Superman in the water."
"This kid is unlike any other young man that I've ever coached," one of Clark's swim coaches Dia Riana told CNN. "He's always stood out. He's kind of a savant of sorts," he added. Another one of his coaches, Travis Rianda, told CBS News that the budding athlete also wants to be a scientist, an Olympic gold medalist for the U.S., and a black belter.
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"He's on track for all three of those," Rianda proudly shared. Clark's dad, Chris Apuada, confirmed to CNN that his son also does piano lessons, martial arts, and coding. The multi-talented fifth grader had also learned to balance everything, so he doesn't feel overwhelmed.
However, swimming holds a special place in his heart. "I love swimming because I have a lot of people supporting me and my coaches are always there for me, and my parents are always there," Clark said. His mom shared that when Clark started to swim competitively at age 7, he took note of swimmers' records and aimed to beat them.
Moreover, Clark had already fixed his eyes on his long-term goal: the Olympics. "This record has motivated me to keep swimming, to keep striving and do everything I can to get to that elite level," he said.
Current Olympic rules require no minimum age for swimmers to compete—Phelps competed when he was only 15 years old.
The 28-time Olympic medalist had already noticed the potential of his soon-to-be successor and took on social media to reach out to the ten-year-old.
Phelps tweeted, "Big congrats to #clarkkent for smashing that meet record!!! Keep it up, dude!!! #dreambig." The CBS News reporter showed the message to Clark. "He [Clark] says thanks @michaelPhelps and whoa!" the reporter tweeted back.
But Clark's real superpower lies not only in his abilities, but also in how he psyches himself to achieve his goals, which he says is also about focus and determination. Clark's mantra? "Always have fun and never give up on your dreams no matter what anybody says," he told Kion.