As a swimmer and lover of the sport, Phelps simply amazes me. To be engineered to do something so well that no one can do it better, that’s just fate. Whats even more amazing is what he’s single-handedly doing for the Olympics and for Swimming alone.
Its no secret that Phelps has always wanted to elevate swimming in the minds of the public. A sport often overlooked, now it seems to be the reason people are tuning in to the summer games, and tuning in, in greater numbers. Something that used to be seen as secondary to the excitement of diving, gymnastics, track and field or volleyball at the summer games has now been pushed into the forefront as we watch with bated breath to see our American hopefuls pull off yet another astonishing win that we were told we could not do. It was not possible. But, its just like an American to say ‘I wont quit. I’ll find a way.’ Phelps has created such an image and Americanized dream of success around the sport that we can only be that much more excited when Lezak pulled off the impossible.
We may all be in awe at how amazingly talented he is in the pool, but we should also be amazed at the well oiled PR machine that he has been groomed into. He’s humble. He’s team oriented. He’s polite and gracious. All this from a 23 year old Superman who has every right to pull a ‘tude about his greatness. He’s become one of the greatest brands in athletic history, American, or otherwise. Something solid for companies to hang their identity on, not only in competition, but in his poise with the public as well. And in the biggest international event in the world, he’ll become the biggest of all time in front of billions. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Who better to elevate our awareness of swimming as a great American sport? Something to look for in the TV listings. Something to be proud of, be it Torres or Coughlin, Piersol or Hansen. I think after these two weeks, none of us will ever dismiss swimming again. Or the fact that the impossible really isn’t after all. The biggest of all athletic spokespeople embodying the American dream, internationally.