In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps stole the show with his record breaking Olympic performance. Phelps earned the title of “America’s Greatest Swimmer” as he surpassed Mark Spitz’s old record of seven wins in one Olympics. Now that Phelps has already announced this will be his last Olympics, Americans will be looking for the next great swimmer. Fortunately for the USA, that swimmer is already on the Olympic roster — 22-year-old Allison Schmitt.
“Schmitty,” as she is known by her teammates, won the gold medal for the United States in yesterday’s 200-meter freestyle. It was her first gold to go along with a silver and bronze medal that she already owns.
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native did not only win the 200-meter final but she did so in impressive fashion. Schmitt set a new Olympic record with her time of one minute, 53.61 second — nearly two whole seconds ahead of second place finisher Camille Muffat of France. How did Schmitt perform so well? It could have something to do with her time training together with Michael Phelps.
“I just tried to keep focused and keep calm,” she said. “Mike [Phelps] and I were joking before the race that he said as soon as you get on the blocks it’s time to start focusing.”
The two train together at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Schmitt spoke to Jo-Ann Barnas of the Detroit Free Press about the influence Phelps has had on her swimming.
She said, “(Phelps) has definitely helped me out a lot. He has shown me the ropes in many ways in international swimming and Olympic trials—keeping me calm before my swim, saving my energy. At the same time, he’ll always be there at practice, if he sees me doing something wrong, if I just want to be like, ‘Michael, watch this finish.’ He’s always willing to watch it and help me out if he sees something wrong.”
Schmitt continued her dominance in the games Wednesday when she led Team USA to a come from behind win in the 4 x 200-meter team relay. Schmitt swam the anchor leg and helped USA come away with the gold in Olympic record time. Her individual split was the second fastest of all-time.
There is still a lot of time for Schmitt to grow and mature, so the best has yet to come for her. With these Olympic experiences and the benefit of training with the greatest swimmer to ever live, Schmitt is well on her way to greatness.