- Bonnie D. Ford, Enterprise and Olympic Sports
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Allison Schmitt happened to score her first career gold medal Tuesday on the same night her training partner, a certain Michael Phelps, got his 15th gold and 19th overall. Inevitably, she got a little overshadowed.
"I got to enjoy Allison's [medal] for about four minutes," said the man who coaches both of them, Bob Bowman of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, who was a bit busy shepherding Phelps through a touch-out loss in the 200-meter butterfly and an emotional, record-breaking performance in the 4x100 freestyle relay.
But Schmitt didn't need her hand held. She crushed the field in the 200-meter freestyle, picking up where she left off at the U.S. Olympic trials. Her time of 1 minute, 53.61 seconds was a new Olympic record and Bowman said he thinks she has the potential to break the world mark of 1:52.98 set in the tech suit interval in 2009.
"I thought she was fully tapered [at trials]," Bowman said. "Fortunately, we had some more in the tank."
With a silver in the 400 free and a relay bronze in the 4x100 free relay, Schmitt is confirming her ability to take on the world at any distance.
She was so eager to get going in her 200 free semifinal heat Monday that she stepped up on the starting block before she was supposed to. Officials waited momentarily, thinking she would realize her mistake, but eventually whistled everyone else into place.
"She was really flustered, for some reason," Bowman said Tuesday. "But tonight she was definitely zeroed in."
The 22-year-old Schmitt took a one-year sabbatical from the University of Georgia to train under Bowman, and Phelps has credited her with helping keep practices loose.
While her 17-year-old U.S. teammate Missy Franklin has received a lot of attention for saying she will go to college rather than turning professional, eschewing what would surely be a huge financial windfall, few have noticed Schmitt has quietly opted to do the same. The four-time NCAA champion has one year of college eligibility remaining. Meanwhile, the NBAC gang is breaking up next year as Phelps will retire and Bowman is taking a year off.
"I think she'll be fine with it," said Bowman. "She loves it [at UGA] and she needs to go finish up. They've done a great job with her. The team aspect is very important to her."
Allison Schmitt won her first gold Tuesday in dominating fashion. Even then, she wasn't the biggest name in the pool.