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Eric Shanteau 'really happy' with London Olympic debut

11:14 PM, Jul 28, 2012   |    comments
Eric Shanteau (USA) competes in the men's 100m breastroke during the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre. (Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)
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LONDON -- Eric Shanteau's Olympic swims aren't over yet, but waiting for the next one might be harder than the race.

Shanteau, 28, of Snellville, Ga., finished 11th Saturday night in semifinals of the 100-meter breaststroke. He is due to swim next in preliminaries of the 400-meter medley relay Friday.

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"This is different. It's not going to be awkward," he said. "It's going to be, um, ah . . . what's a good word? You're going to get antsy, you know?

"I'm all jacked up, I'm racing, and now I've got to be relaxed for seven days. It's just going to be a game of patience, and make sure I do the things I need to do in the next five days."

Shanteau clocked 59.96 seconds in the semis, equaling his time from an 11th-place finish in prelims. He said he had never before broken one minute without wearing a now-banned bodysuit.  

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The depth was such that Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, a two-time Olympic champion in the event, had the No. 4 time, 59.69. South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh clocked 58.83 to break Kitajima's Olympic record of 58.91.

The other American entry, Brendan Hansen, slipped into the final with the eighth-fastest time, 59.78.

"To have 12 guys under a minute after this morning, it's probably the fastest this event has ever been," Shanteau said.

Shanteau's story has been well documented, and he has had darker days. He raced in the 2008 Olympics less than two months after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. He postponed the surgery before finishing 10th in semifinals of the 200 breaststroke at Beijing.

That followed the 2004 U.S. trials, in which he was third in both the 200 and 400 individual medleys, missing the Olympics by one spot.

If he swims in prelims of the medley relay and the Americans place in the top three of the final, he will earn his first Olympic medal.

"You know, I felt good tonight," Shanteau said. "It's a little frustrating because I felt a lot better. I would have thought I'd be a little bit faster tonight."

He had consoling words for Michael Phelps, who finished fourth in the 400 individual medley to end a streak of 13 consecutive Olympic golds. They have been on national teams together for six years.

"All of us got spoiled by what he did and started to take any Olympic medal for granted," Shanteau said. "Michael finishing fourth doesn't take away anything from what he's done in the past and the swimmer he is now. Or the rest of the meet, for that matter.

"If there's one thing Michael has shown us throughout the years, when he does face an obstacle, whether it be a competitor or himself, he's going to take it. So it'll be fun to watch the next seven days and see how he uses it for motivation."

David Woods writes for The Indianapolis Star.

(David Woods, USA Today)

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