Great Bend man’s post to Michael Phelps gets national attention

Austin Levingston (KSN photo / Merry Murray)

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) — A Great Bend man is becoming a social media sensation after posting a message to his idol; Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps.

Not only does the Kansas college student love to swim like Phelps but he also looks a lot like him! Yet it’s something even more special that has won him national attention.

It’s easy to see the resemblance. Austin Levingston is often told he’s a dead ringer for Michael Phelps, especially when you see him in the pool!

“I started swimming when I was 14 years old,” said Austin Levingston.

What you might not see right away is his battle with autism and how he struggles to communicate and make eye contact. But after Phelps competed in the Rio Olympics, Levingston reached out to him, posting this message on Facebook.

“I told him I’ve been looking up to you for a very long time and I’m hoping to swim in the Olympics like you someday,” said Austin.

He also told Phelps he’s autistic and going to Barton County Community College, hoping to be the first person in his family to earn a degree. Even though Phelps has not responded, hundreds of others did — telling Levingston he’s an inspiration.

“I’ve had a lot of people who’ve raised kids with autism tell me how much of a hero I am for doing that.”

Even The Baltimore Sun wrote a story about Levingston and how being bullied led him to swimming and Phelps. He is now using his newfound fame to encourage others who may look up to him like he looks up to Phelps.

“I would tell them that you can do anything you set your mind to,” said Austin.

Right now, Austin’s Facebook message to Phelps has gotten more than 4,200 likes and nearly 300 comments.

He’s hoping he will get to meet the famous swimmer in person someday.

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