I am not a swimmer at all. In fact, when I am in the pool, I am usually playing with my grandsons or relaxing with my husband. Any pool laps I do include a colorful swim noodle, used by young children or people at the other end of the age spectrum, and are part of thirty minutes of exercise that I try to get in a day. However, during the Olympics, like many others, I was fascinated by watching the skill of the swimmers competing, and hearing their stories.
One story in particular got my attention and kept me thinking. That story was about Chad le Clos, the young South African swim team member who won the 200 meters, beating Michael Phelps “by a touch.” Chad is a swimmer, and one, who, since he was twelve years old, was imagining himself being Michael Phelps. Impressed and inspired by Phelps, Chad immersed himself in the idea, watching tapes of Phelps’ swims over and over again, reading articles and interviews, studying anything he could find about Phelps’ skill.
Then Chad practiced. He imagined himself swimming like Michael. He imagined himself winning at the Olympics. And he practiced. Eight years later, Chad le Clos beat Michael Phelps in the 200 meters at the 2012 Olympics “by a touch.” I did hear a story about him sometime after the race. The report said that half-way through the race, in that moment, Chad said later that he had thought of himself as Michael Phelps and everything seemed in slow motion as he finished the swim and won the gold.