2016 RIO OLYMPIC GAMES
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Swimming: August 6-13
- Olympic Aquatics Stadium, Barra Olympic Park, Rio de Janeiro
- Prelims – 9:00 a.m/12:00 p.m PST/EST (1:00 p.m local), Finals – 6:00 p.m/9:00 p.m PST/EST (10:00 p.m local)
- SwimSwam previews
- Schedule & Results
Phelps, anchoring the American 4×200 free relay, stepped to the blocks to put his swim cap on as longtime teammate Ryan Lochte swam the third leg. But there was a twist: as Phelps stretched the cap over his head, it ripped.
NBC commentators noticed the equipment issue as Lochte was holding the American lead with less than 100 meters until he would pass off the relay to Phelps. Phelps, already dealing with the second half of a tough 200 fly/200 free double at age 31, calmly dropped his ripped cap and grabbed the cap of Dwyer, who was still recovering from swimming the relay’s opening leg.
If Phelps looked like he’d “been there, done that” before, it’s because he has. The most decorated Olympian of all-time flipped Dwyer’s cap inside out to hide Dwyer’s name, then jumped in the pool to put the U.S. victory on ice.
You can see the whole proceeding in this gif, courtesy of FlipTheTables on Reddit:
Phelps split 1:45.26 on that leg, helping Dwyer, Lochte, Townley Haas and the U.S. win the relay it has historically dominated. The win counts as Phelps’ 21st gold medal off all-time, an insane all-sport Olympic record that doesn’t appear in jeopardy of being broken anytime soon.
Phelps had just won gold #20 earlier in the night, toughing out a win against a brutal 200 fly field.
He’ll also have great gold medal chances in the 100 fly, 200 IM and 4×100 medley relay later on this week.
(Side Note: Commentators on the Canadian broadcast, perhaps not realizing Phelps’ own cap had shredded, brought up the question of sponsorship, noting that Phelps’ sponsors might not be happy he turned the cap inside out, hiding its logos. Phelps, of course, is essentially his own sponsor with AquaSphere’s MP brand, so that wasn’t a major issue.
On the other hand, Phelps turning the cap inside out may have been a quickfire business decision: most of the U.S. Olympic team have been wearing caps and suits of various brands, based on each athlete’s preferences and sponsorships. Dwyer’s cap very well could have borne the logo of a rival company, and Phelps may have actually made AquaSphere very happy by not swimming a highly-publicized race under another company’s logo.)