By RJ Bardsley
It has been an intense couple of days for swimming fans. I must admit that I was incredibly bummed to see Phelps not medal in the 400 IM on Saturday. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a Lochte fan and I think he deserved to win more than anyone out there – he put in the work and he had the singular focus. Somewhere, deep down though, I wanted Phelps to have a triumphant last swim for this event. In retrospect, maybe he should have quit while he was ahead on this. The big difference between Phelps and Lochte (in this particular event) was that one focused his entire life for the last four years on the goal and the other one coasted; Phelps admitted that he hadn’t really been training for the IM. When I was talking to my friend Leslie about this yesterday she shook me out of my Phelps sentimentality and put things in perspective – “he didn’t train for it, he doesn’t deserve it. It’s the Olympics, not everybody gets a trophy.” She’s right.
On a separate note, one of the events that really made me smile this weekend was the 100 meter breast stroke. I tuned in because it’s my favorite event in swimming and I was rooting for Brendan Hansen, an older athlete (30) who returned from retirement to race in this Olympics. It was his last chance to medal, and he did – earning a bronze from the outside lane (for those of you not into swimming, swimmers are given lanes depending on how fast their qualifying times are – fastest swimmers are in the center lanes, slower ones on the outside lanes). I was thrilled for him, and loved his commentary right after the race, where he thanked his parents for raising him right. But the unexpected fun during the 100m breast stroke event was the gold medalist, Cameron van der Burgh. van der Burgh was a first time medalist in the event for South Africa. He was a bit of an unknown and I’m always excited to see a country win for the first time at an event.
And I couldn’t wrap up a post on Olympic swimming without mentioning Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers – both winning gold on Monday in the 100 meter backstroke. Missy set an American record of 58.33 seconds and Grevers set an Olympic record of 52.16. Talk about a great day for US swimming!