Allison Schmitt: Why She Is the Best Women's Swimmer on Team USA

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Allison Schmitt: Why She Is the Best Women's Swimmer on Team USA
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Allison Schmitt has been on a tear for Team USA in London these Olympics. She has been a fixture on the medal podium for any race she’s competed in. 

Schmitt made her Olympics debut in Beijing back in 2008, but failed to qualify for the Finals in any individual event. She did, however, compete with the 4x200-meter freestyle relay team, helping them to a bronze medal, her first medal at the Olympic games. 

Schmitt vowed to come back in 2012 much stronger than she was in 2008. She went out and sought help from someone who’s had a bit of success during the Olympics before, Michael Phelps. Schmitt spoke with Jo-Ann Barnas, sports writer for the Detroit Free Press, about the impact Phelps had on her training and state of mind heading into the London Olympics. 

"(Phelps) has definitely helped me out a lot. He has shown me the ropes in many ways in international swimming and Olympic trials—keeping me calm before my swim, saving my energy. At the same time, he'll always be there at practice, if he sees me doing something wrong, if I just want to be like, 'Michael, watch this finish.' He's always willing to watch it and help me out if he sees something wrong."

Now faster, stronger and more mentally prepared for everything at the Olympics, Schmitt has been nothing but excellent during her time in London. If she decides to enter an event, you can be sure you’ll see her on the podium with a medal around her neck at the end. 

The first event Schmitt competed in was the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. Schmitt was set to anchor the relay, but the race was already out of hand by the time she got into the water. She did finish strong, though, and earned the bronze medal for her team. Team USA should still be proud of this performance, however, as they set an American record for this event. 

Clive Rose/Getty Images

Her first individual event in London was the 400-meter freestyle. Schmitt cruised through the qualifying heat and finished second with a time of 4:03.31. You can tell she was racing smart, though, and holding back during the qualifying so she could make a much stronger push in the Finals. This was, in fact, the case as Schmitt increased her time to 4:01.77 during the Finals, another American record. She again finished second, just 0.32 seconds behind the leader, and was awarded her first ever silver medal. 

Schmitt had just one more individual event to go, the 200-meter freestyle. She failed to reach the Finals in this event in Beijing. Schmitt knew this was going to be her best event, having set the American record in it during the 2012 US Olympic Trials just one month ago. 

During the qualifying heat, Schmitt held back, but still won her heat and finished with the second fastest time overall, beating fellow American Missy Franklin. In the Semifinals, Schmitt again conserved her energy, finishing second overall with a time of 1:56.15, just 0.07 seconds behind the leader. 

Heading into the Finals, Schmitt knew this race was hers to win. After a very strong first turn, Schmitt never looked back, and had a commanding lead the rest of the way. She improved her time to 1:53.61, setting an Olympic record and finishing nearly two seconds faster than anyone else, including the favorite from France Muffat Camille. 

Schmitt is now three-for-three and owns a bronze, silver and gold medal. She also set either an American record or an Olympic record in every race she competed in. No other woman swimming on Team USA can say that she swam in that many events and medaled in all of them, including Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer and Rebecca Soni. 

Schmitt is clearly in a class of her own for Team USA women's swimming, and earned that status with her tremendous training and perpetration for these Olympic games. She will go down as the best swimmer in London and one of the greatest of all-time. 

The only event left for Schmitt during the 2012 London Olympics is 4x200-meter freestyle relay. She did not swim during the qualifying round, but will be a member of the team that goes for a medal during the Finals. 

With the greatest American swimmer in the race, you know Team USA will be receiving a medal when the race is over.  

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