Every four years the summer Olympics rolls around and for those two weeks I virtually cancel all plans. For 16 days this August it will be all about the sports. I may not follow football, baseball, or basketball but I cheer like you would not believe for Team U.S.A. – men and women who put their heart and soul into their craft and have made it to the top, to the greatest arena imaginable. The Olympic song gives me goose bumps and Bob Costas can convince me to cheer for any sport. The summer Olympics, however, are my favorite and the Games in Rio begin three months from today!
As a long time swimmer the big events in the natatorium are always my favorite and in the swimming world Micheal Phelps and Ryan Lochte will likely be back along with some names you probably have heard of including Katie Lydechy and Missy Franklin, who everyone loved in London 2012. While I am excited to watch these four swim and their names are pratically already on some team relay medals, if not a few individuals as well, I am most excited about a name you likely have not heard of, unless you are in deep with the swimming community, Caeleb Dressel.
Caeleb is on the top of my list to watch after setting the American and US Open records in the 50-yard freestyle going 18.23 in at the NCCA college championships which he swam as a 19 year old sophomore at the University of Florida. Could this have been a World Record? Would it have broken the Olympic record? The answer to both of these questions is unknown because American college swimming likes to be different and thus we compete at different lengths than the Olympic and international standards so the two do not equate. Just to give you a sense of how fast this is – take a look at Caleb in comparison to his heat:
He wins by almost a second. A SECOND. In a race that only took 18 of them. That is insane and if it still does not make sense to you, take my word for it – incredible. Watch out for Caeleb Dressel this summer – Go Team USA!
I often have people tell me that they don’t really “get” swimming. It is an individual sport and unless you know it well it is not that interesting to watch and it is hard to have team pride. Except during the Olympics – you cheer for the USA because, well, just because. And the U.S. is really good at swimming which does not hurt. We take home a majority of the medals and that’s fun regardless because everyone likes swimming.
However, if you are going to jump on the bandwagon in three months though before you do I am going to make you watch just one more swimming video. The clip below is just about the best race ever – the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (hint: Michael Phelps’ 2nd Gold medal at that games). This clip gives me the chills every time I watch it:
Serious chills. Every time. And there have been a lot of times in the last eight years. So get ready for the many great evenings of swimming in August but there is one big unknown – no one is on the team yet! It all comes down to one meet – a meet that is usually faster than the Olympic Games – the U.S. Olympic Team Trials which kick off June 26th in Omaha, Nebraska where the top two in every race will win the trip of a lifetime to Brazil!
Go Team USA!