You can't sweat out . . .

Michael Phelps smoking from a bong is not a world record

In The Sporting Life on February 3, 2009 at 1:31 am

I woke up this Monday morning feeling a little overwhelmed.  Did I have an especially brutal week of work ahead?  No.  Did I lose this month’s rent betting on the Super Bowl’s coin toss? No (but I should have bet.  It was heads.  And I always call heads).   Had I sleepwalked and ended up being big spoon in my roommate Mosher’s bed?  No.

No, none of those reasons contributed my unease.  The one, and only thing that was causing me to consider the ramifications of how I would have to act during that particular day was the new responsibility I had so willingly taken on just hours earlier.  The weight on my shoulders, of course, was the adoration and respect that is inevitably showered upon a world record holder.

That’s right, my first, and only (thus far) world record involves no talent whatsoever.  Except maybe the talent of hanging around with epic people.  In this case, it was thousands of others who gathered on Long Beach, Long Island, to jump in the ocean and raise money for the Make-a-Wish foundation.   On Sunday afternoon at approximately 1:18 pm, I joined an estimated 3,500 others to become world champions of simultaneous mid winter dips into freezing water.

Get down to the wataaahhhh

Get down to the wataaahhhh

Sadly, the feat we accomplished on Sunday was seemingly forgotten by Monday morning.   The cover of amNewYork was not a picture of a Polar Bear, but rather a full size image of my fellow world record holder Michael Phelps taking a rip from a bong.  Apparently Phelps doesn’t understand what it means to be a role model.  Holding a world record takes a lot of responsibility and living your life the right way.  Come on, Phelps- you didn’t see a picture of any of us (and there were 3,500 chances) on the cover of a newspaper doing the pot.

I guess it is just emblematic though.  His water?  Chlorinated and temperature controlled.  Ours?  Peed in and cold as hell.  I mean what sacrifice does it really take to be an Olympic swimmer?

Annnnd, this tangent is done.

Anyway, while it was definitely worth it to go in the water and set a world record (I am anxiously awaiting information on how I can purchase my official Guinness certificate, which will be framed and hung above my bed.  For the rest of my life), I was a little disappointed with the temperature of the water.  When little kids are pausing after getting out of the surf to build sandcastles before heading for their towel, it may be a bad sign.  Alright, that didn’t happen, and maybe I am just used to ridiculously cold water, having swum in the Atlantic off Maine as early as May, but I expected to have my breath completely knocked out.

Still, whenever I walked past either Storelli or Corrigan today, I sensed a newfound air of respect between us.  Not respect for each other as co-workers, Polar Bears, or even men.  No, this was a new type of respect, the type of respect that only those in the fraternity of world record holders can truly understand.

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  1. Seanathan

    I’ve been waiting for Michael Phelps to get his comeuppance since August of 2004 because I still cannot understand all the fawning and fuss that has been made over a guy whose ‘sport’ is at the absolute bottom of the winter sports totem pole (Basketball, Hockey, Indoor Track……..and then Swimming). Sure, some people probably find swimming at a rapid pace impressive, but dominating the ocean in February in the Northeast is right there. Let’s just hope that this incident leads Michael Phelps down a path to doing infomercials and appearances on Hollywood Squares.

  2. at least Phelps was man enough to acknowledge his actions and apologize — he’s still a decent role model despite the hypocritical media storm

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