BEIJING (CIOC) With their hearts in their throats, the eyes of the Cayman Islands watched its star swimmer Shaune Fraser walk onto the pool deck to take his starter’s position in his first event of the 200 metres freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games.
His face a mask of concentration, Fraser was in the zone and could not hear the shouting fans coming at the sidelines that had travelled half way around the world to see cheer him on.
Outside the Water Cube stadium, a deluge of rain and dark skies heightened the drama of this Olympic moment, four years in the making.
With the 200m freestyle considered his strongest event and the first of the four Caymanian athletes to compete in the Summer Games, the pressure was on Fraser to perform. And he did not disappoint.
Flying off the podium, he hurtled through the water. The bright blue of the Cayman flag stayed steady on his cap, a telling sign that Fraser rarely bothered to move his head to the side to breathe as his arms sliced through the water, pushing the physical limits of speed and oxygen.
Finishing the heat at 1 minute 48.60 seconds, Fraser had set a new personal best in this event.
Nevertheless, with a ranking of 26 out of 57 swimmers in this event – it was not enough to get him into the top 16 spots to make the semi-finals, with Dominik Meichtry of Switzerland, Jean Basson of South Africa, Bren Hayden of Canada, Michael Phelps of USA and Colin Russell taking the top five spots.
After the results of the heat came in, Fraser was already moving on mentally to his next events.
‘I should have been happy with it but I think I could have gone a little faster,’ said Fraser. ‘I am just trying to get ready for my other events now like my 100m freestyle. That should be a good one.’
‘There was a lot of pressure and expectation on him for this event,’ said Cayman swimming coach Dominic Ross. ‘He wanted to do well and he dropped his time. But now that it is out of the way he can move on to other events.’
In the days and hours leading up to his next two events, Fraser can’t think about the buzz surrounding Phelps who won the 200m freestyle and will also be competing with him later this week in the first round of the 100m butterfly.