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Now we can stop holding our collective breaths, the longest swimming programme in Olympic Games history has ended and there was drama and incident from the first event, the men's 400 metres Individual Medley, to the last the men's 10k Open Water race.

What has pleased me most is that people who wouldn't normally cross the road to watch a swimming event have become enthralled by something that captured my attention 15 years ago at the European Championships in Sheffield.

The talk in the BBC office was all about Phelps and Adlington, how to pronounce Cavic and how do they swim that fast over 10 kilometres?

The international highlight, by some distance, was Michael Phelps.

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Eight golds, seven world records, but people will be talking about that finish to the 100 metres butterfly for many years to come. Did he really overtake the Serbian on the last stroke, and why has the underwater shot of the finish mysteriously 'disappeared'?

Well it's not available to the BBC anyway. It doesn't quite rival the JFK conspiracies, but it will be a topic of conversation in Belgrade and Baltimore on many cold winter nights over the next few years.

It shouldn't however mask the amazing achievement by the 23-year-old and there are more record-breaking feats in store for us to watch, and him to do, in London four years from now.

Sorry Michael, but you don't get the accolade for the best individual performance in a race. Call me jingoistic if you like, but Rebecca Adlington's domination of the field in the 800 metres freestyle final will live long in my memory and those of everyone who witnessed it.

To beat the field by more than six seconds, and to break Janet Evans' stubborn 19-year-old record by more than two, was a staggering achievement.

Britain has, at long last, unearthed a genuine swimming superstar, the like of whom we have not seen since David Wilkie in the 1970's. Her finish in the 400 freestyle was breathtaking enough, but five days later she eclipsed that many times over.

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It's a shame that the 1500 is not in the Olympic programme for women. I believe the 19-year-old from Mansfield would be capable of winning that along with her other golden events.

And, for good measure, she could anchor the 4x200 metres freestyle relay team to victory in 2012 as well.

The title of Dame Rebecca might be a bit premature, (does it really sit properly with a young woman not yet into her 20's?), but her achievements should be recognised properly and not just with the renaming of the local baths.

Jo Jackson has been rather overlooked because of Adlington's greatness, but her bronze medal in the 400 metres freestyle was just reward for one of the most hard-working of swimmers in the British team.

Unlike Becky she was not blessed with a graceful stroke, but brute force and determination has taken her a long way and will give her the confidence to go a step or two further

The men's team, on the whole, relays excepted, was disappointing. There were a few bonuses - Michael Rock making the final of the 200 metres butterfly and Robbie Renwick taking his chance as a first reserve for the semi-finals to make the last eight in the 200 freestyle.

Gregor Tait's Olympic swansong saw him make a final in the 200 backstroke, for the second time, but despite a British record, Liam Tancock was unable to underline his genuine world class in the 100 back.

The Open Water was a fantastic addition to the Olympic programme, and not because Britain picked up half of the medals.

Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten were just reeled in by Larissa Lichen to deny a British one-two in the women's 10km, and David Davies had nothing left to give, in being overhauled by Marten van deer Widen in the last 100 metres of the men's race.

They were both absolutely stunning finishes.

Six medals, 21 finalists in the pool, British records galore, a few European and Commonwealth ones thrown in for good measure, don't call British swimmers under-achievers any more.

That coat simply doesn't fit now.

Bob Ballard is a BBC reporter and commentator focusing on swimming and diving. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


Comments

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  • 1. At 12:10pm on 22 Aug 2008, MikeFay wrote:

    Can we still say we're under-achievers at the short distances, though? All the medals came over distances of 400m or more.

    While I'd be the first to say that's proper swimming - cover a long distance as fast as you can, none of these less-efficient strokes - that's not where most of the medals to be won are.

    Still - 400m or more swimming (including medleys):
    GBR 2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze
    USA 1 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze
    Aus 1 gold, 1 silver, 0 bronze

    Looks good, doesn't it?

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  • 2. At 1:02pm on 22 Aug 2008, Toddmt wrote:

    Once he had recovered, he found himself being dragged away from media interviews by overzealous Chinese marshals. A scuffle broke out, in which Davies’s coach Kevin Renshaw, and Michael Scott, Britain’s performance director, shouted at the marshals to “keep your hands off him – do not touch him.” The female marshal then shouted at Davies, who broke off from being interviewed to say: “Just shut up!” She did no such thing but before she knew it, Davies had splashed water in her face from the drinks bottle he was carrying. Scott joked: “He was just shaking a champagne bottle, nothing more than that.”

    David Davis wins silver, but lose much more! Shame on you, a rude winner! Say sorry!

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  • 3. At 1:05pm on 22 Aug 2008, Toddmt wrote:

    Davies doused a belligerent Chinese official with a bottle of water as he spoke to the media prior to the medal ceremony.

    As officials tried to steer him towards the podium, he took offence to the man-handling he was receiving.

    After telling one overly aggressive official to "shut up", he eventually threw the contents of his water bottle at a female official before calling an end to his interview.

    -----------------------------------
    David Davis behaved rudely . Poor female marshal, she was just doing her job!

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  • 4. At 1:19pm on 22 Aug 2008, Crowperson wrote:

    Well done Rebecca, David, Cassie, Jo, Kerri-Anne... - another sport to work very hard on for 2012.

    Regarding knighthoods/damehoods, I didn't think Cassie Patten should have touted Adlington for one. I think there should be a separate prize - along the line of a British Nobel Prize - for achievements in the course of one's duties in the arts or sport. I feel knighthoods should be left for something spectacular or outside the normal course of duties, such as a rescue effort or being a whistle-blower. Under the current system Hoy should get one, particularly for his services to sport, but unless we move to a prize system the knighthood is eventually going to be devalued if we give one to every swimmer who does well at the Olympics.

    Because I hope there are going to be many more.

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  • 5. At 1:52pm on 22 Aug 2008, ashen_shugar wrote:

    @2 and @3
    Still people whinging about Davies' "poor" behaviour. Now, I'll admit, what he did was wrong, but it was hardly unprovoked. I believe the events went: -

    1. Davies gets treated for Hypoglycemia(sp), which has irritability as an effect.
    2. Davies talks to reporters.
    3. With 10 mins to go to the medal ceremony a chinese official starts hassling Davies.
    4. Davies asks the official to shut up, in a jocular manner.
    5. The official continues to hassle him, and places a hand on his arm, tugging him away.
    6. Davies asks the official to remove their hand.
    7. The official does, Davies continues talking.
    8. The official grabs him again.
    9. Davies warns the official not to do it again.
    10. The official ignores the warning and gets splashed.

    Now like I said, what he did was wrong, but given the situation a helluva lot more restrained than many others would have been.

    Back to the actual blog itself. Well done to all the swimmers. A fantastic performance, following the disappointments of 4 years ago.

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  • 6. At 2:01pm on 22 Aug 2008, ElmerT wrote:

    It seems BBC (or its reporter) is quite biased favoring its citizens... come on ... Phelps did what most people doubted and you know that.

    So sorry... but for swimming my vote will still go for Phelps.

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  • 7. At 2:33pm on 22 Aug 2008, brusselsshrek wrote:

    For those who want to read a more detailed examination of the Phelps conspiracy theory, take a look at this site:

    http://100thofasecond.com/

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  • 8. At 2:54pm on 22 Aug 2008, Tramp wrote:

    The thing I want to know is whether there is a connection between Phelps beating Cavic and 9/11?

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  • 9. At 3:54pm on 22 Aug 2008, csnmf_1 wrote:

    David should have moved when we has first asked to move, if anything the official had alot of restraint and patience acting in response to David's escalation of the situation. Especially when English is not her first language.

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  • 10. At 4:04pm on 22 Aug 2008, Inherent wrote:

    I hope the B.B.C. does'nt turn Tom Daley into another Paula Radcliffe or the off button will soon be pressed

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  • 11. At 4:12pm on 22 Aug 2008, grant20126 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 12. At 5:50pm on 22 Aug 2008, csnmf_1 wrote:

    I can say this Olympics as well as the build up has really opened my eyes on how biased the media is when I have always grown up with the 100% belief that the BBC were neutral, what I fool i was. Then they complain that China play the victim.....

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  • 13. At 6:57pm on 22 Aug 2008, ashen_shugar wrote:

    Good for you grant20126. You know for a fact that Davies hasn't apologised. How precisely? Hmmm, maybe you don't. Still, don't let that get in the way.

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  • 14. At 7:12pm on 22 Aug 2008, grant20126 wrote:

    Dear ashen_shugar:
    I really don't know if Davies has apologized or not. If you know ,please offer me the information.
    Most of British (if not all) complained the Chinese officials. But is it true? If you know it please offer the evidence--of course, the video. I don't know why BBC cut off the live video record of this part. That is, for sure, really helpful.
    I wonder why BBC/TGB/David don't openly tell us what did really happen. AS you may not know, David is now the most famous British sportsman in China.
    Cheers, mate

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  • 15. At 11:41pm on 22 Aug 2008, gaoindenmark wrote:

    Why BBC did not tell the truth of the British swimmer (i feel ashamed to type his name) ?

    However, we can find the truth here:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4577785.ece

    "As he climbed out of the lake on to the pontoon, Davies collapsed and did not have the energy to fend off stretcher bearers who carried him to a nearby ambulance. Davies played down the incident when he said: "I just wanted to lie down and have a sleep, but before I knew it I was on a stretcher."

    Once he had recovered, he found himself being dragged away from media interviews by overzealous Chinese marshals. A scuffle broke out, in which Davies’s coach Kevin Renshaw, and Michael Scott, Britain’s performance director, shouted at the marshals to “keep your hands off him – do not touch him.” The female marshal then shouted at Davies, who broke off from being interviewed to say: “Just shut up!” She did no such thing but before she knew it, Davies had splashed water in her face from the drinks bottle he was carrying. Scott joked: “He was just shaking a champagne bottle, nothing more than that.”

    How can he so rule to a female volunteer!

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  • 16. At 01:12am on 23 Aug 2008, preciousinformer wrote:

    I was not impressed with Davies' behaviour, but funny how things get worded here :

    "Davies doused a belligerent Chinese official with a bottle of water as he spoke to the media prior to the medal ceremony."

    That "belligerent" official was a mere woman who was trying to get him to make his way to the medal podium. I have been watching the Olympics from day 1 and the Chinese have done a masterful job of getting things done properly, orderly and fairly.

    But we get this as a response :

    "Just another example of British thuggery on the international scene" - Youtube

    "David Davis, you won the silver, but lost more..... "

    "This David Davies guy has become extremely famous in Chinese Forums. People are all talking about how much of a typical English gentleman he was for not following the schedules and splashing water in a woman's face . I'd say he'd probably consider himself president of the earth if he ever won gold.." - a sarcastic forumer

    No wonder people hate us.

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  • 17. At 5:00pm on 23 Aug 2008, eloquentarsenal wrote:

    well done, i was laughing all the way through it, how hilariously funny

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  • 18. At 7:07pm on 23 Aug 2008, D Zhang wrote:

    After reading relative reports regarding the disgraceful behaviour of Mr. Davies, I finally understand why there are so many yobs got their ASBOs.

    Thanks to people like Mr. Davies, our young lads would learn all sorts of anti-social behaviours from him. And they would say, hey, the Olympians are doing it, why can't we?

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  • 19. At 1:53pm on 24 Aug 2008, Kevin-in-Atlanta wrote:

    Best individual performance in a race?

    The answer is: Lezak!

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  • 20. At 10:59am on 25 Aug 2008, FawltyBasil wrote:

    Yes Lezak, 46.0 for his leg in the 100m free relay - just incredible. I don't think we can blame Bob for being so enthusiastic about our own girl since it was the best performance from a GB swimmer in history and we might never see the like of it again. As for overall performance, rather than a one-off, who could argue with Phelps. Although even as a one-off his 400m I.M. must be ranked alongside these other two - 4:03 (I can clearly remember who would be the first man under 4 mins for 400m freestyle and even that seemed amazing at the time).

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  • 21. At 3:23pm on 25 Aug 2008, Colleenk wrote:

    Mr. Ballard,
    The underwater shot of the 100 meter butterfly event DID NOT mysteriously disappear. If you go to www.NBC Olympics.com and click on the swimming event, it is right there. It's just not posted on YOUR website.
    Sorry, not conspiracy here.

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  • 22. At 4:51pm on 25 Aug 2008, redredbiddy wrote:

    Well done to all our swimmers and other athletes.... massive acheivement, however it would be unfair to say that the Olympics were over. I agree that for the able bodied athleletes they are but in a couple of weeks time the main Olympics is going to start for the Para Olympians and I am hoping they will continue in the same vien with the amount of medals and presonal best records to be smashed.
    Well done Team GB and best wishes to the Para Olympic team on their quest.

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  • 23. At 01:21am on 26 Aug 2008, chemhehe wrote:

    Forgive David Davies. It just a snake(another story about the farmer and the snake). It should stay in the Walsh zoo.

    Thanks you, bias uk medias.

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  • 24. At 04:33am on 26 Aug 2008, woolloomoolooinoz wrote:

    Best performance in the pool?
    In my view has to go to the written off Aussie girls in the 4 x 200 womens relay.
    Written off and scoffed at by the daily mail and coming home to win in a world record time. Now that was sweet!

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