Friday, August 15, 2008

The Other People in the Pool

ESPN's Pat Forde took a break from his worship of Michael Phelps in his latest column to give some much deserved love to other members of the U.S. swim team:

You can't help but feel for Natalie Coughlin, who won her 10th career Olympic medal Friday morning. Nobody noticed because Phelps was busy winning his sixth of these Games and setting his sixth world record in the 200 individual medley.

Or for Ryan Lochte, who won his first individual gold in the 200 backstroke and then finished third in that 200 IM 30 minutes later -- an amazing display of endurance and toughness. Lochte's double was relegated to the "In Other News" department.

Or for Rebecca Soni, who earned America's most surprising swimming gold so far with her upset over Australian Leisel Jones in the 200 breaststroke. Jones had held the world record in the event until Friday, when Soni shattered it and won easily.

I was delighted to see Lochte take gold in the 200 backstroke last night. He'd long played the George Harrison to Phelps and Aaron Peirsol's Lennon and McCartney. I also enjoyed watching Natalie Coughlin win the 100 back a few days back despite her seeming inability to swim the stroke in a straight line. As much as I've set my clock by Phelps this week, all of the swimmers on the U.S. team have, together, made for a wonderful primetime viewing experience.

Update: ESPN's Jim Caple has another great article on this subject that looks at some of the great non-American swimming stories. He writes about twelve-year-old Antoinette Joyce Guedia Mouf from Cameroon; Pamela Girimbabazi who has survived genocide, poverty, and disease in her native Rwanda to compete in the games; and Zakia Nassar of the Palestinian Territories, who won a heat of the 50 freestyle despite not being allowed to train in a nearby Olympic pool in Israel and having to practice in a 12-meter pool in Bethlehem.


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