12 Highlights By The Greatest Squad On Earth: Team USA Olympic Swimming
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12 Highlights By The Greatest Squad On Earth: Team USA Olympic Swimming

It's not all about Phelps but it's still all about Phelps

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12 Highlights By The Greatest Squad On Earth: Team USA Olympic Swimming

As of Sunday morning August 14, 2016, the world has witnessed 33 medals earned by the United States in swimming alone. I can always remember coming together with my family around our TV during Prime Time to watch history being made. For some reason though, I feel even more invested into watching this year at Rio. I’ve caught myself during my down time in the morning hours before my day activities watching prelims of races and keeping track of certain athletes. I have this urge to keep updated on the sport to show my support. I’ve unconsciously worn red, white and blue all week!

It’s definitely not difficult to support a winning team like USA especially when we have some of the big name athletes on our roster aka the swimming God Michael Phelps. But I’d say it’s a little odd that we get so hyped about a non-contact sport like swimming when during the in-between four years from Olympics we thrive on contact sports like American football, hockey and basketball. Regardless if you’ve kept track of swimming in the Olympics or the Olympics in general, here are twelve highlights from the greatest squad on the Earth: Team USA Olympic Swimming.

1. Lilly King vs Yulia Efimova

You might have heard about America’s Lilly King finger wagging in the ready room at Russia’s Yulia Efimova. The reason? Efimova failed a drug test earlier this year but later was overturned. King, outspoken about how she feels about clean racing, displayed to Efimova and the world that she’s ready to back up her values and winning gold in the 100m breaststroke drug-free. King may have appear headstrong but I think she displayed the American spirit defending her values and not letting anyone let her stray in what she believed in.

2. Katie Ledecky’s Gold Run

In general, this girl has lived up to her hype. Gaining four individual gold medals and a silver, Katie Ledecky has shown speed, endurance and stamina are definitions on who she is. She is humble about her winnings and it’s truly amazing to see the distance she can separate from herself and the rest of the heat to secure her winning spot. It’s always record breaking differences; almost as if she laps them! She’s one of those athletes that make you rethink if Olympians are even human!

3. 4x100m Freestyle American Relay Reactions

The first race of Michael Phelps’ last Olympics proved to be another golden result. With a crew of two first time Olympians Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Held and veteran swimmer Nathan Adrian, Phelps and the gang reclaimed gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay since getting silver back in London 2012. The most precious thing was witnessing the medal ceremony for this event. Adrian was all smiles, as usual, while the newbies were overwhelmed with emotion one with tears and the other with joy as Phelps took in another glory moment. It never gets old being on top.

4. Phelps vs Le Clos

Chad Le Clos beating Phelps in the 200m Butterfly during the last Olympics was just the start to this rivalry. The taunting that ensued verbally between London and Rio actually brought Michael out of retirement to regain his title. It didn’t help that Le Clos made it clear in the ready room that he was directly targeting Phelps in intimidation with his shadowboxing warm-up. As usual, Phelps was in the zone but with the tensions of this rivalry, the new Olympic meme was created: the Phelps face. It was just a cherry on top when Phelps did gain his 20th gold with this event and seeing Le Clos not even medal. Don’t be all talk and no action!

5. Nathan Adrian’s Acceptance of Bronze in 100m Freestyle

Not gonna lie that Nathan Adrian is my Olympic crush but he has every reason to be! The previous gold medalist to the 100m freestyle, Adrian had difficulties making into semis as he barely squeezed in with the last place. During semis, he showed the world why he was reigning champion coming out first. Despite this success, in the finals he didn’t repeat his London win but ended up with bronze. One would feel disappointed and upset with the loss but Adrian never stopped smiling. He congratulated the new gold medalist Kyle Chalmers from Australia and went through interviews and the medal ceremony with a genuine smile. There’s something admirable about those who can smile even in disappointments.

6.) Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay Group Dynamic

These ladies dominated the pool beating the other teams by over a second! With Ledecky anchoring, no one should be surprise but it’s always a great time getting excited for another gold medal win! During post-race interviews, the ladies were all smiles and you could see the admiration they had for one another and how much they supported each other. You could also tell they were just excited to be a part of the Olympics! They mentioned taking group selfies before the race began! Talk about your squad goals!

7. Missy Franklin’s Positivity

Coming out of the London Olympics in 2012, Missy Franklin gained four gold medals and a bronze. However Rio wasn’t nice too her. She ended up receiving a gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay as one of the swimmers for the prelims and not for the finals and she didn’t end up making individual finals for any of her events. Despite the disappointment, coaches acclaim that Franklin exudes only positivity to her teammates and is extremely supportive too. I know during my own times of struggle that seeing so much success surrounding me can be overbearing but Franklin’s attitude is commendable. There’s always a next Olympics!

8. The Last Phelps vs Lochte Race

Through 13 years of swimming and a mixture of bromance and rivalry, Thursday night was an end of an era between Phelps and Lochte. Always coming out gold to Michael and silver to Lochte in the Olympics for the 200m IM, the results of Thursday night was not exactly as expected. Phelps became the first to win an individual event four times in a row in the Olympics while Lochte didn’t make the medal podium ending up fifth. During post-race interviews, Lochte applauds Phelps although it was clear he wasn’t thrilled about his own place. However, he did mention that he’ll see Phelps at Tokyo 2020. So the era might not be over yet!

9. Simone Manuel’s Gold

There’s much talk about the Simone in gymnastics, who is an absolute superstar, but Simone Manuel from women’s swimming is making history too. Thursday night during the women’s 100m freestyle, Maunel tied for first place making her the first African-American female to win an individual event in swimming. I know from experience how important seeing representation of people like you succeeding is and for many young African-American girls, they will have found another idol to admire.

10. The Comeback of Anthony Ervin

First competing in the Sydney games back in 2000 and tying for gold in the 50m freestyle, Anthony Ervin took a 16 year break to truly find his identity. He returned to swimming realizing his passion for the sport and rediscovering it as an integral part of who he is. After all that training, Friday night the world witnessed him receiving the gold once more in the same event he won 16 year earlier. Ervin, 35 years old, is the first Olympian to accomplish such a feat and also became the oldest swimmer to win gold in an individual event. Fellow teammate Nathan Adrian received the bronze and can attest on what an inspiration Ervin is.

11. Phelps Gets Schooled

Although not a gold medal win, Phelps makes history again by having the first three-way silver medal tie in Olympic swimming history for the 100m butterfly. He alongside, Laszlo Czeh and Chad Le Clos were beaten by a second by 21 year old Joseph Schooling from Singapore. This was Michael’s last individual event of his career but he ended it with all smiles embracing Schooling in congratulations. Schooling must feel like an extra special champion beating the Michael Phelps and his idol. Back in 2008 before Beijing trained in Singapore and got a picture with young Schooling. Now it’s a picture of the student besting the master.

12. The End of an Era; The Start of a Legacy

Saturday night marked Michael Phelps’ last Olympic race with the 4x100 IM Relay. The team with Ryan Murphy on backstroke who established a world record split, Cody Miller on breaststroke, Phelps with his iconic and Nathan Adrian swimming freestyle finished off Phelps’ career with a gold and an Olympic record. He truly is retiring folks. The tears were evidence to the overwhelming emotions and honestly as an audience member I feel the same too Michael. After basically my entire lifetime watching him swim in the Olympics, it won’t be the same without him. I feel extremely grateful to have witnessed him live through my television screen earning the right to be a legend as he made history breaking record after record. He finished his legendary career with 28 medals: 23 Gold; 3 Silver; 2 Bronze.

***Bonus*** Carpool Karaoke

I know swimming is basically over however we have this creation from pre-Rio 2016 forever! How can you not like Carpool Karaoke combined with the greatest team ever?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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