Michael Phelps inspired many with his Olympic exploits.
Even his competitors were in awe of his storied career, which ended with 22 medals after his final Olympics in London last summer. For fellow American swimmer and gold medallist Conor Dwyer, Phelps has a lasting legacy.
“It was the most watched thing in the world,” Dwyer said. “Those Games provided more attention to the sport and the public can’t get bored with it. It feels like the other day Phelps told me to give him a good lead in the relay race so that the French guy couldn’t catch him.”
Dwyer, 24, earned gold as a member of the winning US 4×200-metre freestyle relay team. His team-mates were Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Phelps. The US would post a time of 6:59.70 to beat out France (7:02.77) and China (7:06.30). Dwyer would produce a time of 1:45.23, setting the stage for Phelps’ mark of 1:44.05.
Dwyer, a Chicago native, was in Cayman last week for the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association’s Splash, Dash and Dine fundraiser to boost local swimming. He states he would like to return here and spend time with Cayman’s Olympic swimming brothers, Shaune and Brett Fraser.
“I hope to come back in the future, see more of Cayman and hang with the Fraser family here.”
Joining Dwyer in Cayman would be British Olympic swimmers Caitlin McClatchey and Liam Tancock, both 27-years-old. The trio led clinics at the Camana Bay Aquatic Centre and at the Lions Pool. Local youngsters would learn tips about starting races and various strokes.
The visiting Olympians would then go on to participate in 200m and 400m sea swims off Seven Mile Beach, which enjoyed corporate support from the likes of Care Pharmacy, before capping off their Cayman trip with a brunch at the Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort.
For the Brits, who also starred in London, Phelps’ swimming legacy will be long lasting.
“To me, it was the second biggest event at the Olympics,” said McClatchey, who is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. “It was a fan spectacle. After the Olympics, you got to see a lot more involvement in the community because everyone wanted to get into the pool.”
“There was a higher interest in the sport, a higher percentage of people practicing,” said Tancock, who is from Exeter, England. “I went to the local pool and people were inspired by Phelps. Some are doing it for the fitness, others want to go to the Olympic Games too. People continue to be inspired.
“Ultimately, you got Phelps, who has 22 medals and is the greatest Olympian of all time. He surely is an inspiration to me.”
For the Brits, their Cayman sojourn has its roots in technical director for Cayman swimming, Ian Armiger. The former Loughborough University swim coach developed many Olympians, such as McClatchey and Tancock, in his tenure.
Tancock states he would like to visit his old instructor in the future.
“It was a home Olympics for Caitlin and I and we hoped to share that with the kids here. I would like to come back next year and see a year of difference.”