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Swimming not an individual sport – US stars

August 2, 2013

Ryan Lochte 1

It is often said that swimming is an individual sport, but somebody has forgotten to tell that to the US swimming team competing at the Fina World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

Five-time Olympic champion Ryan Lochte, who on Thursday won his third 200m individual medley title in a row to give him a fifth consecutive podium place in the event, said that he is not too concerned who wins.

“As long as it is for Team USA.”

He praised the women’s team in particular, who, by the end of day five of the competition, had picked up six of 11 gold medals on offer.

“I love it. They have been swimming out of their minds. I am just excited to watch the whole Team USA for the rest of the championships because I have seen them train, I have seen what they are capable of doing and it is going to be fun.”

The US contingent in the athletes stands is not only the biggest, it is also the most vociferous and they start chanting “USA, USA” whenever an American swimmer is announced.

They also encourage swimmers individually, as they did Nathan Adrian, who finished third in the 100m freestyle behind Australian James Magnussen and US teammate James Feigen.

“Way to go, Nathan,” they called as the 24-year-old Olympic champion got out of the pool.

For newcomer Karlee Bispo, who won her first gold medal in a major meet with the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay on Thursday, the support has been tremendous.

“To be with these three Olympians and to be able to represent my country and to hear the USA chant and to wear the flag on our suit and cap and to win the gold medal is something that I will never forget.

“I was trying to hide back the tears during the national anthem. It is definitely an unforgettable moment.”

For teenager Missy Franklin, the relay victory was already the fourth gold in the Palau Sant Jordi pool, having earlier won the 100m backstroke and 200m freestyle and swum on the victorious 4x100m freestyle relay team.

Anchoring the team, the 18-year-old took over in second place, but simply plowed her way to the front, crushing the last Australian swimmer Alicia Coutts and giving the US a victory by nearly two seconds.

“But I don’t even care about my split. It is just incredible being on a relay team with these girls. Regardless of what the time was, I knew I had to leave everything in that pool.

“I was scared in my first 100 because I was so excited. But I knew I had to bring it home with everything I had. I was just thinking about these girls and trying to get my hand on the wall.”

Asked if swimming in a team was important to her, Franklin flashed a huge smile. “It is hard to put into words. It means more to me than I can say.

“I think being a part of a team is the most important part about swimming for me.”

Franklin said she recognised the fact that for many people the team aspect of swimming is less important. “So my perspective is different because a lot of people think of it as an individual sport.

“But when you get out there and you have people that are not only your teammates, but also your friends, that you know are going to support you no matter what, you just have this whole new energy about you.

“Then you just want to go out there and race harder than you have ever before.”

It has obviously worked for Franklin and the rest of the US team and there is little to suggest that Team USA is going to be losing that winning feeling any time soon.

Sapa-DPA

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