- 22 Aug 08, 11:25 AM
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.
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.
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.
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