The 2008 Olympics games saw the making of one of the most decorated athletes of all time, and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you know exactly who I am talking about: Michael Phelps.
The media has taken notice of this remarkable athlete who was born for the sport. With eight gold medals at these Olympics alone, how could any one deny that he isn’t one of greatest swimmers of all time?
However, what about the other athletes at these games? What about the other swimmers in the sport who were completely discredited or hidden under the media’s fascination for Phelps?
As a former competitive swimmer, I know how hard the training, dedication, motivation, and physical strain takes on any swimmer’s body and mentality. Like Michael Phelps, all competitive and driven swimmers wake up at the crack of dawn to swim for 2–3 hours and then come back in the afternoon for another 2–3 hour practice followed by an hour of dry-land training. Hence the normal routine for any swimmer is: sleep, swim, eat, swim, eat, and repeat.
Understanding that all Olympic swimmers train with almost the same difficult and grueling routine as Michael Phelps — though without his extraordinary genetic makeup — I think that they should be given some deserved recognition as well. I felt that there were so many incredible races, I couldn’t quite pinpoint which athlete and race to focus on. So I asked Katie, my friend and a former teammate of silver medalist, Matt Grevers, to give me her take on the athletes and races she thinks should be given the same attention as Michael Phelps. Here are her top 5 choices:
5. Ryan Lochte winning gold in the men’s 200 backstroke
4. Rebecca Soni and her incredible win over Aussie favorite, Leisel Jones, in the women’s 200 breaststroke
3. Great Britain’s Rebecca Adlington, who beat the 20-year-old world record in the women’s 800 freestyle
2. Brazil’s Caesar Cielo and his emotional men’s 50 freestyle win
1. Jason Lezak and his astonishing finish in the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay, just beating out the French favorites and keeping Phelps’ 8 gold-medal goal alive
Regardless of the media’s overwhelming interest in Michael Phelps, I am thrilled that the sport of swimming is FINALLY moving up the ranks to become almost as popular as basketball, football, and baseball. Well, maybe not, but at least it’s more watched than equestrian!
— Carly M., STACKS Staffer