Jul 31, 2012; London, United Kingdom; USA relay team members from left Michael Phelps , Conor Dwyer , Ryan Lochte and Ricky Berens pose with their gold medals and American flags after winning the men's 4x200m freestyle relay finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
A look back at a wild week in the aquatic center in London that saw the end of one remarkable career and perhaps the start of another.
It was a hectic week of intense Olympic swimming. I was exhausted just watching all of it; I even found myself snacking as if I had competed in the all the events, including the relays. Now that's beyond delusional.
Here are some observations I made in between the munchies:
1. The Lochte-Phelps rivalry we were reading about all summer delivered. First, there was the 400 IM race which Lochte won at 4:05.18. That's 4 seconds faster (an Olympic lifetime) than Phelps, who came in fourth (4:09.28). So maybe it really was Lochte's time.
But wait! Come Thursday, Phelps won big in the 200 IM. He won gold in the same event in three consecutive Olympics. No swimmer had ever done that before. And then he did it twice with his win in the 100 Fly on Friday. He finished his career with 22 medals, the most of anyone in Olympic history.
2. Missy Franklin is just so composed and friendly. Every event she's in, we find her congratulating and hugging her lane neighbors. She just has to be every parent's dream child. I really do see her going into politics in 20 years. What a charmer! She participated in 7 events and won four gold medals (three individual and one team) and one bronze (team).
** Here's the manicure and pedicure watch for the women swimmers: the trend seems to be multi-colored nails (I have seen red, blue, green, and white).
3. Who's the stud? And I just don't mean the impressive abs of all the athletes on the blocks. Though Phelps said that of Franklin as "a stud," I believe the title belongs to the 16-year old Chinese phenom, Ye Shiwen. She won gold and set records in the 400 IM and the 200 IM. While there is always speculation about performance-enhancing drugs, we cannot discount her amazing talent and very, very intensive training.
4. There's a new generation of French swimmers. And they are not all training in Auburn University either. Yannick Agnel is 6'8 and 20 years old. He trains in the south of France (Nice) and is said to be quite the intellectual. He told a radio interviewer in France he will start on his regimen in weights when he gets back. I predict he will be the new rival of the next new US star.
5. Yes, Virginia, even Olympians in the pool have false starts. I had my eyes on Breeja Larson for the 100 breast and while on the block, there was an inadvertent technical test toot and she was right off the block. It happens to them too!
6. Just about every athlete has a ritual or a routine to follow right before the jump. Fit goggles, tug at cap; flap, flap, flap the arms and stretch. Bend down and splash that pool water on the body. I even saw one scoop a handful of pool water and swallow it. It brings a whole new meaning to being one with the water!