Olympics / Team profile / U.S. swim team buoyant after final training camp
The Americans have spent the past week preparing themselves mentally for the five-ring circus that awaits them.
The U.S. swimming team was bubbling with confidence and ready to scoop the pool in London after finishing its Olympic preparations with a low-key training camp in central France.
After spending the previous week getting in peak physical condition at a swimming boot camp in Tennessee, the Americans have spent the past week preparing themselves mentally for the five-ring circus that awaits them. Hidden away from the Olympic spotlight, the squad could not have been more relaxed heading to London after a week that was more like a summer holiday than the final phase in a four-year build up.
The team trained in a public pool overlooking a racecourse and spent the nights roaming the town of Vichy, in the Auvergne region, indulging in French cuisine and meeting the locals. "It has been a great week," said Michael Phelps. "We're all getting kind of antsy now so we're ready to go. This week has been about fixing all those little things that can make a big difference."
On Saturday, the Americans opened the gates to their training pool to the public and hundreds of local residents turned up to see them go through their paces. When training finished, the swimmers were treated to a barbecue, and spent two hours mingling with the locals, signing autographs and posing for photographs.
"We've had such a blast. It has been so much fun," said Missy Franklin, the Colorado teenager chasing seven medals in London. "The whole environment has been fantastic and absolutely we'll go faster in London. We've been working really hard on the small things and now we're ready."
Franklin's coach Todd Schmidt said that for most of the American swimmers the Olympics are more relaxing than the trials, which are deliberately set up as a pressure-cooker event where only the best make the team.
"The Olympic trials are called trials for a reason - because it's a trial. The trials are definitely far more stressful. They're an emotional roller coaster," he said. "But coming into this meet, we all start fresh."
The Americans go into the Olympics boasting the fastest times this year in 12 of the 26 individual events set at the U.S. trials in Nebraska, but the men's head coach Gregg Troy said he expected they would be even faster in London.
"We went back to work last week [in Tennessee] with the intention to increase our volume but this camp has been more technical," he told Reuters. "It has been more a resting and preparation camp than a training camp. From what I've seen this week, we're going to be better across the board."
Ryan Lochte was close to exhaustion during the trials after swimming a grueling program while still in heavy training. The 27-year-old from Florida said he was primed to produce his best in London.
"We're definitely going to be a lot faster," he said. "This is the Olympics. We've trained four years for this. We've just been changing the little things this week and making them better so that we can have the perfect race in London."
No immediate IOC sanctions on tix scandal
The IOC will not take disciplinary action before the London Olympics against officials accused of illegal ticket sales. The IOC opened an ethics investigation last month after Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported that national Olympic committee officials and ticket agents in several countries were willing to offer tickets on the black market.
The paper turned its evidence over to the IOC, which is still reviewing it. The IOC could have provisionally suspended any implicated officials or barred them from attending the games. But spokesman Mark Adams says the IOC executive board decided against that Saturday because hearings are still being held. He says "we can't take temporary measures without giving everyone the chance to be heard."