From Michael Phelps to Katie Ledecky to Lilly King, U.S. swimmers have been quite the showstoppers in Rio.
“Oh, it’s electrifying in the swim arena,” 12-time Olympic medalist and four-time gold medal winner Dara Torres said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It seems like every night a world record has been broken. The thing is, the crowd is really behind the U.S. too. Obviously when the Brazilians come out, they go nuts. But when Michael Phelps swam and Katie Ledecky (swam) last night, the crowd was crazy. It’s just so fun to watch.”
Ledecky, 19, has been utterly dominant in Rio, winning the 200- and 400-meter freestyle races. She dominated both events, setting a world record in the 400 free (3:56.46) to finish nearly five seconds ahead of runner-up Jazmin Carlin of Great Britain.
How is Ledecky this good?
“It’s hard for me to fathom,” Torres said. “Here’s a distance swimmer that also swims sprint events. She swam on the 400 freestyle relay, she won the 200 free and then she won the 400 and still has the 800. You don’t see that in swimming. Usually swimmers specialize in their best strokes or their best events. She’s really a once-in-a-lifetime type of swimmer that you probably won’t see again.”
King, meanwhile, became a fan favorite after criticizing Russia’s Yulia Efimova, a known drug user, and then beating her in the 100-meter breast stroke. Even better, King set an Olympic record (1:04.93) in the process.
“That’s definitely a lot of confidence for a 19-year-old to be able to stand up for what she feels,” Torres said. “To me, it wasn’t testosterone or some crazy drug that (makes) you get huge and strong, or EPO, where you can just last long in a race. But still, she’s 22 years old. This girl should know you don’t take a supplement over the counter. You just don’t do that. She trains over at USC, she’s in the U.S., you know that you’re supposed to call the drug hotline and find out if you cat take this or not. There was something in there that was illegal in the supplement, and I don’t blame Lilly King for being upset. My view is that once you cheat, you should be banned. . . . She’s in the United States, she’s being tested by USADA. They give you all the rules and regulations, all the drugs that are on there that you can’t take. So to me, there’s just no excuse.”
As for the men, Phelps has been pure joy to watch. He has won three medals thus far in Rio, taking home the gold in the 200-meter butterfly, the 4×100 freestyle relay and the 4×200 freestyle relay.
Torres, who made two swimming comebacks in her career, knows that what Phelps, 31, is doing is not easy.
“He’s been through so much in his life, so many ups and downs,” she said. “He dedicated himself to doing this and did it all the right way. When I saw him at Olympic trails, I looked at him and thought, wow, I had never seen his physique look as in shape as it is right now. Last night, watching him go up to his fiancee and kiss her and kiss his baby, tears were coming out of my eyes. I couldn’t even talk. It was just a very heart-warming scene to see live here in Rio.”