Thursday, August 14, 2008

Are you a Phelps Phan?

I have to admit that I am a bit of an Olympics junkie. Ever since the '96 Olympics when Dominique Dawes (aka Awesome-Dawesome) was on the gold medal winning American gymnastics team, dubbed the "Magificent Seven," I have been hooked. Watching those girls on television had me rolling around all over my basement floor. I didn't know a thing about flipping and tumbling, or the incredible strength it took to perform the way that they did; but at 11 years old I jumped off the staircase, my imaginary balance beam, and stuck every landing.

Fast forward to 2008: the NBC networks are on every tv in our house pretty much 24-7 and I am loving gymnastics, basketball, diving, volleyball and tennis. I can't wait for track and field to start, and swimming definitely takes precedence. For someone who generally isn't into sports, I guess there is something about competing on the international stage, with bodies that emulate those of Greek gods and goddesses, and the incredible passion and emotion infiltrating every competition that keeps me hooked. And these days, the one man who is keeping my eyes glued to the big screen (the Olympics in HD - such a great idea) is Michael Phelps.

Now granted, everybody in Baltimore City feels akin to this young man who we all believe might just be part fish. The local news channels have been interviewing the people who "know" Michael the best, over at Meadowbrook in Mt. Washington about how they think he handled his 10th gold medal swim with his goggles filling up with water. "Oh Bob [Bowman] trained him to swim through adversity." On 92Q, a woman commented about him needing to consume a high caloric diet because of the ridiculous amount of hours he spends in workouts and training - and she knows she has seen him around the way eating a chicken box. And you can't forget the local commercials where he gives an ode to Baltimore - how it will always be his home, he loves eating crabs and he's the Raven's biggest fan. My personal favorite though, is that you can text the local news channel WBAL, and they will text you back and let you know when he is going to be swimming live on television.

Baltimoreans have some serious pride when their sons and daughters make it big on the national and international stage to the point of being corny and over-zealous. (Remember when the Ravens won the SuperBowl in '01? People are still talking about it, while waving purple flags like it was yesterday.) But hey, why shouldn't we? Especially when our most recent notoriety comes from The Wire, where yes there is a lot of truth to it, but then I hear stories of how new Teach for America recruits refuse to be placed in Baltimore because of what they are watching on HBO.

So I guess I am joining in with all the Baltimoreans who are serious Phelps Phans. What better time is there to have some Bmore pride than during the Olympics? I mean he and I are the same age and he's such a cutie pie and most importantly, a friend of mine from high school trained with him at NBAC. So I mean, I guess you could say I know him... kinda.

I'll just continue to watch him swim in HD, marveling as he slices through the water to collect gold medals number 12, 13 and 14, without breaking a sweat. Like my mom says, he's got a rhythm: swish, swish... swish, swish... swish, swish...

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