Michael Phelps’ First Gold Medal

Dad to Home on Aug. 13:

Hey, this morning I went for a great run. I set my alarm for 7:20 a.m., but I woke up on my own, went to the bathroom, got dressed and was tying up my shoes when I took a longer and closer look at both my clock and watch … it took a while before it registered; it’s 2:30, not 7:30! I took the shoes off and went back to sleep, wearing my running clothes. Then I ran.

I made it to the sea wall and the ocean. It was awesome. Quiet. A few fisherman. Seaside cafes. Giant rocks. Even one guy swimming.

Dad to Home, Aug. 15:

I had a media ticket to the first night of swimming, but I was running late. I was trying to finish up some computer stuff, when I decided I better get going. Then I had to go, so I dropped off at the bathroom for a minute or two. But wait, where do I go?

“Cecil, where do you catch the bus for swimming?”

He tells me it’s right outside of the MPC, the main press center, where I work. I stand in line with a bunch of photographers and all of their gear, super large lenses and their computers. It’s pretty cool.

They take their pictures with giant digital cameras, download the photos to their laptops, and e-mail them to their photo desks, which decide which ones to use in the newspapers. The photographers’ computers are hooked up to satellites. Wow.

Anyways we get on the venue tram. I still don’t know how far the pool is. We stop once. We stop again. By the way, I have about 7:29 p.m. on my watch and finals start at 7:30 p.m.

Finally, the pool. But where’s the media entrance? I don’t know, but I head to a security checkpoint. The sign says, Accredited Entrance. I’ve got a credential, so I move forward through the medal detector.

“Excuse me, sir, do you have anything metal on you?”

I’ve sent off the alarm. “Ah, no, I don’t think so … wait, this is it!” I pull out my spiral notebook; the spiral is metal. They wave me back to go through again. It’s 7:32 p.m.

Ahhhh. I’ve set off the alarm again. This time they wand me, but don’t find anything. “Sir, are you carrying a mobile?” My phone. I had it in my super secret side-leg pocket. No wonder I couldn’t remember that.

So now, I’m through security, but where’s the media entrance to the pool. It could be anywhere, but let’s try here. Look … media signs. Hmmmm … but where do I go? Where do I sit?

I head up the stairs behind two slow people. Hurry up, I’m thinking. Michael Phelps is about to swim the 400m IM and I’m going to miss it.

I go up two levels. “Where’s media seating?” I show him my ticket. He says, “It’s up there, but there aren’t any  … sir!”

I’m off up the stairs. I find a seat right on the aisle and sit down … just as Michael Phelps climbs onto the starting blocks.

After the race, I was able to get Michael’s attention from the stands and gave him the thumbs up. Then I went to the press conference and got to talk with all of my old friends in the media. I even got a big hug from Karen Crouse, a writer from the L.A. Daily News. They were happy to see me. That was nice.

After all of the races were over, I was snooping around — they weren’t checking credentials that much — and I found myself back by the team area near the warm down pool.

I got to chat with a bunch of swimmers and coaches, like Mark Schubert, and even my old friend from Australia, Ian Hanson. He is the PR person for Australian swimming. We’ve been friends for years. I spent my last night in Sydney with Ian. We stayed out late. We traded team jackets in 2000. His daughter, Brooke, swam in Athens and won a silver in the breaststroke.

I told Ian, Mark and whoever would listen about Carli anchoring that relay at State; they all got a kick out that one.

Well, I have to go; it’s really late, but I wanted to write and tell you that.

Dad to Gina on Aug. 24:

I just wanted to write you a quick note to tell you one thing … sometimes, when I get back to the ship, and I’ve been gone all day, I’ll sit on my bed and start taking my shoes off and then I’ll notice it … the ship is gently swaying to and fro, side to side … I like that.

I love you, Gina. I miss your hugs and Italian kisses. Be good for Mom. Pick up your clothes and books, throw away your trash, put away your dishes and give Mom lots of kisses.

Carli to Dad on Aug. 26:

I had a dream about you last night. It was about swimming. The starting blocks were the rocking chair’s foot rests. The pool was another version of the Air Force Academy, except all of that was in the middle of the zoo. Then I woke up.

Dad to Carli on Aug. 26

I loved your dream and that you were thinking of me. A pool in the middle of a zoo. I think you have the beginnings of a Dr. Suess book there. What did you have for dinner that night? That’s an awesome dream.

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