BEIJING (CIOC) – It was Brett Fraser’s moment when he exploded at the start of the 200 metres backstroke and rocketed down the length of the pool, picking up speed with every stroke in the Water Cube in his first showing at the Olympic Games.
The excitement in the crowd grew louder as Fraser stayed ahead of his two competitors in the heat.
Even in the water, Fraser could hear the rising noise as he tried to block it out in his single-minded pursuit of the wall.
With a distinct French accent the race official shouted: ‘Cayman’, reminding spectators of the United Nations flavour of the Games as Fraser poured on the power in the last 100 metres until he hit the wall ahead of his two competitors, Oleg Rabota of Kazakhstan and Sergey Pankov of Uzbekistan in his individual heat.
Finishing the race in 2 minutes 1.17 seconds, Fraser knocked off serious time for a new personal best in the backstroke since his qualifying time earlier this year.
When the six individual heats were finished in the first round of the 200m backstroke, Fraser ranked 29 out of 40 swimmers.
While he did not get into the top 16 to make the semi-finals, Brett was happy with his performance in a way that only rising athletes can do.
‘My goal was to do a 2:00 but I went to 2:01,’ he said. ‘I am still happy with that. It is still a great swim. And I feel really good because this is my first Olympics.’
Cayman swimming coach Dominic Ross said Fraser looked strong and powerful in the water.
‘Last summer at the Pan Am Games he was doing 2:06 and 2:07 and now he is down to 2:01,’ said Ross. ‘Now that he is starting to see that he can do well in this sport – he is starting to really believe in what he is doing and be up there with the best.’
Competing in the Beijing Olympics alongside his older brother, Shaune Fraser, Brett said he was overwhelmed with emotion at the historical moment still in the making.
That such a small country has put two swimmers in the most famous athletic event in the world has caught the imagination of athletes from larger countries he said.
Minutes after his Olympic heat, he is already thinking about stepping up his backstroke and freestyle for the next Olympics event.