U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials: Things Learned on Night 4 (other than Bob Costas makes it better)

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Image Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

Did everyone get as excited as I did seeing Bob Costas show up for the fourth night of the swimming trials? It wasn’t so much that I needed to see him interview Ryan Lochte, a conversation that started slow but had a strong finish. It was that it made me excited for the opening ceremony in London, which I assume he’ll once again call with Matt Lauer. I look forward to the trivia they’ll drop: In 2008, I learned that at the 1936 games, Haiti and Liechtenstein realized they had the same flag, and in 2010, I learned that in 1964, a group of Mongolian cross-country skiers showed up unexpectedly at the Innsbruck Olympics but were allowed to compete anyway. Fill, gentlemen! Fill!

In the meantime, here are a few things I picked up during Night 4 (not from Bob, unless noted):

• Women’s 200M Butterfly is U.S. swimming’s weakest event. It was the only one at last year’s world championships in which no American made the final. The announcers kept asking, why haven’t we had a breakout star? I don’t know. Maybe because this stroke sucks. Am I right?


• We are, however, pretty rockin’ in 200M Freestyle. Allison Schmitt broke her own American record, swimming the fastest time in the world this year. Missy Franklin finished second and qualified for another event in London.

• Michael Phelps’ upper body pulls focus from his thighs, which are equally impressive. It wasn’t until we got that head-on shot of him doing his signature wing flap before he won the 200M Butterfly tonight (and qualified for his third event in London) that I noticed how massive they are.

• Kathleen Hersey, who won the second 200M Butterfly semifinal, trains with the men’s team at the University of Texas and it keeps her “focused.” That obviously would not have the same effect on me.

• Bob Costas doesn’t know how to pronounce McConaughey. “I’ve seen more pictures of you shirtless than anybody this side of Matthew McGonaughey,” he told Lochte. (Lochte’s response, other than laughter: “I guess milk does the body good.”)

• Lochte needs to work on his finishes for London. You need to keep your head to your shoulder and drive into the wall, don’t lift it. That’s how Phelps defeated him in their last head-to-head. Speaking of awesome underwater shots…

• I would like more underwater shots looking up at the swimmers as they dive into the water and start their stroke. That was some beautiful footage of Kevin Cordes.

• I would also like to see more competitors end up doing synchronized Breaststroke. It was my second favorite shot of the night, watching Clark Burckle, Eric Shanteau, and Brendan Hansen bobbing in unison while finishing 1-2-3 in the second 200M Breaststroke semifinal.

• The Kukors are criers. Loved the tears of joy when Ariana Kukors finished second behind Caitlin Leverenz in the women’s 200 IM.

• The music has improved a bit at the CenturyLink Center. I heard a little Rihanna up in there.

Questions that remain:

• What was that GIANT Phelps figure on the lawn, and what kind of things have people been putting in his GIANT open mouth?

• What was everyone in the arena laughing at when we at-home viewers were watching Costas interview Lochte?

• Did whoever design the women’s Speedos intend to give them that cutout feel? I just noticed it tonight for the first time and appreciate the effort, even if I’m still on the fence about it. Also, was it intentional for the suits to look like they have sparkle to them when they’re wet and catch the light?

• How soon does someone like a Davis Tarwater or an Elizabeth Pelton realize they went out too fast? Do they know they’re pushing too hard while they’re doing it, but adrenaline gets the better of them? Is it not until they get passed that they realize, Oh, I must have gone out too fast because I have nothing left? Or was that their plan all along, to go out fast knowing they’d fall off but hoping they’d be far enough ahead to even it out?

Read more:
Ryan Lochte’s diamond-encrusted grill: What is your damage?
U.S. Olympic swimming trials: Phelps beats Lochte as both wonder ‘Wha’ happened?’
Night 2: Do all male swimmers look like Alexander Skarsgard?
U.S. Olympic swimming trials: Best and worst of Night 1
Olympic trials TV schedule: It’s time to care!

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