Michael Andrew finishes his 2020 Tokyo Olympics campaign with a
fast 100m breaststroke leg and helps USA win a gold medal in the 400m medley relay together with Ryan Murphy, Caeleb Dressel, and Zach Apple.
After two very close fourth-place finishes and a fifth-place finish in his earlier races, it took the very last race of the Tokyo Olympics pool swimming schedule for Michael Andrew to stand on top of the podium – and what incredible company did he find himself with.
Considering that Andrew did not swim competitively as a high school or collegiate swimmer in the United States, the pressure was significant on him as a relay member. His teammates, backstroker Ryan Murphy of California Berkeley, butterflyer Caeleb Dressel of the University of Florida, and freestyle anchor Zach Apple of Auburn and Indiana University had years of competitive relay racing. The trio had all raced at high school championships, at multiple NCAA Championships, at Pan Pacific Championships, at FINA World Championships, and performed exceedingly well during gold medal performances at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
Murphy, Dressel and Apple had all faced the pressure of representing their schools and country under pressure-packed situations.
As Dressel explained to the media after their world record performance,
“You have to be so perfect in that moment.”
The Gator from Gainesville reflected on his five gold medal performance in Tokyo,
“I knew I had to execute every race and every heat and that’s how sport goes sometimes. I had a lot of fun, I had a good time yesterday – if I got better each day and to end with that relay – it is really, really special.
Just to sit everyone down and put it right in our face and say this is something you can do. To see it on the board (the world record time) is spectacular and really special.
I tried to convince myself that the World [Championship]s were the same, and it is the same competition; but it is a lot different here. I’m aware of that now, and I’ll stop lying to myself.
It means something different to prepare for something that happens every four years to prepare for something that happens over 40 seconds and 20-something seconds. We’ve had a five-year build-up to be perfect. There is so much pressure in that one moment that your whole life boils down to a moment that takes 20 or 40 seconds. How crazy is that?
I wouldn’t tell myself during the meet, but it is absolutely terrifying, but it is really fun if you look at from a different perspective – it is something that boils down to a very specific moment of time in the universe and that just happens to be the Olympics.
It is my goal to fulfil my potential. My goal is not to beat Mark [Spitz], it is like I’ve already exceeded my expectations here and had a fun time doing it. It was not a perfect meet at all; there was a lot of low points in this meet and mental obstacles, more than those podium finishes. That’s the fun of it. The ups and the downs, and you have to figure out how to roll with it and figure out how to get better.”