WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
July 26, 2012
The unseasonable 90-degree weather outdoors in London is having a sauna-like effect on the London Aquatics Centre indoor facility.
While facility officials are trying to temper the hot air rising from the vents, air temperature was 85 degrees and water temperature 79 degrees on Thursday, just two days before the swimming events begin.
“The folks have done a great job working on the facility,” U.S. Olympic men’s coach Gregg Troy of University of Florida said.
“I guess it’s a little bit warmer than what they usually get this time of the year. It’s been a little warmer on the deck, but it’s not unreasonable. I think it’s going to be a whole lot warmer in the stands. We’re from Florida so we’re used to the heat and it’s a little advantage from our standpoint. I think they’ll get it taken care of.”
Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman and several other members of the U.S. team met with the media on Wednesday and Thursday.
Phelps was asked what keeps him motivated.
“How many toppings do I want on my sundae? “ Phelps said. “I am having fun. My goals are keeping motivated. I am excited. It is kind of annoying sitting around and waiting the whole time. As soon as we are in the village, we wanted to compete.”
Phelps swims against Ryan Lochte in the much-hyped 400-meter individual medley on Saturday. He said it’s a great way to get the U.S. team started off on the right foot.
“Everything we have done has never been easy,” Phelps said. “It is always a challenge to have things go perfectly. For the very first night it is going to be a challenging race. It is going to be an exciting race.”
Added Bowman, “For someone who wants to promote the sport of swimming, there is not a better way than for him to swim that race. It will be a very tough race. It will be a coach’s dream and I think a spectator’s dream.”
Missy Franklin, who will swim in seven events, said she is honored to be compared to Phelps but added “There is only one Michael Phelps. He won eight gold medals and no one is going to do that again.” Franklin is trying to become the first female swimmer to win seven medals at an Olympics.
Natalie Coughlin said she is not done with swimming and may train for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I think a lot of people assumed that I was done and I never said that,” Coughlin said. “The hardest part of being an athlete is the day-to-day training and I enjoy that, so I might as well keep doing it.”
Lochte was answering just as many questions about his love life as his swimming career. The media seems to be making a big deal over his friendship with Aussie swimmer Blair Evans. He said they were just friends and that he hadn’t seen her in a year and was happy to see her.
Lochte and Phelps are suite mates in the Athletes’ Village. They have been playing cards and watching DVDs of Breaking Bad and The Wire, he said.
Lochte was asked about his game plan to beat Phelps and Lochte downplayed the rivalry the media has built up.
“I am not really going to swim to beat Michael,” Lochte said with a smile. “There are a bunch of others in the race to worry about. Michael is my competitor but we also have a great friendship.”
U.S. Swimmers A Hit On YouTube
If there is a gold medal for best Olympic YouTube, the U.S. Olympic swim team wins hands-down.
In a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” video, swimmers and coaches were featured in one of the funniest and entertaining videos featuring Olympic athletes. USA Swimming’s Mark Russell was videographer and editor, Kathleen Hersey was director, Caitlin Leverenz was executive producer and Alyssa Anderson was producer. Natalie Coughlin choreographed the airplane dance scene. Swimmers did it between workouts to blow off a little steam, they said.
It did show that this is probably the loosest, most tight-knit Olympic swim team in USA Swimming. “It is one great group of swimmers,” texted USA Swimming’s Jack Roach who opened the video swaying along with Michael Phelps. “It has been so much fun.”
Brendan Hansen dancing under water is one of the video highlights. “My underwater dancing is much better than on land, trust me,” Hansen tweeted.
Matt Grevers booty dancing, Ryan Lochte puckering up, Missy Franklin dancing and lip syncing with emotion and Dana Vollmer breaking up a kiss between real-life couple Rebecca Soni and Ricky Berens were just some of the hilarious highlights.
With the departure of Stanford women’s coach Lea Maurer, who resigned to spend more time with her family, Missy Franklin has dropped Stanford from her list of top college choices. She said that three of her visits are UC-Berkeley, Georgia and USC. She is expected to have a few more visits. Franklin has retained her amateur status to compete in college, turning down prize money and endorsements…
The U.S. team’s opening ceremonies outfits were pricey. The men’s outfit cost close to $2,000 each while the women’s was nearly $1500. The men’s blazers and shirts were $1,000 along as well as the women’s blazers and skirts. But then again it is designer label Ralph Lauren, a U.S. Olympic sponsor. Lauren and the U.S. Olympic Committee were blasted for having the outfits made in China and not in the U.S. Lauren has already promised to have the 2014 Winter Olympic uniforms made in the U.S…
Sweden’s world champion Therese Alshammar may be forced to drop out of the Olympics because of a severe pinched nerve in her right shoulder which she has had for the last few months. It’s begun to affect her back and prevents her from a complete full shoulder rotation. She is undergoing treatment and could improve over the next few days according to team trainers. She has already dropped off the 400 freestyle relay…
Former Miami swimmer and 1984 Olympian Michelle Richardson is serving as chef de mission for Nicaragua and will carry the country’s flag in Friday night’s Opening Ceremonies Parade of Nations. Her brother Frank competed in the Olympics for Nicaragua. Chinyere Pigot of Suriname and Metro Aquatics will also be a flag bearer. Davie Nadadores swimmers Jemal Legrand of Aruba and Sofyan El Gidi of Libya were also selected by their peers to carry their countries’ flags in their Olympic debut.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com