Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass grabbed medals in the 200 IM to show that U.S. Swimming hasn’t lost its edge.
They enter the Olympic pool from eight lanes on one end, but also from all over the U.S. (Even Alaska, apparently). So it was not surprising Wednesday when a pair of fresh 19-year-olds walked off the USA Swimming assembly line and onto the medal podium. But it was still damn impressive.
The day before, Alex Walsh had been doubled over in hallway at Tokyo Aquatics Center, looking like she might break. One consolation is that she has looked like that before. In the moment, it looks like she can’t handle the pressure. But more likely, that is how she handles the pressure.
Another consolation came from that joy and bane of modern life: the phone. It is the only way for most athletes here to talk to loved ones, and Walsh needed it desperately.
“Last night, I was really struggling,” Walsh said, a mere 12 hours and one silver medal later. “I had seen a lot of my friends medal. You know that the whole United States is kind of watching you. That can definitely get to you.