Oliver Lee ’10 participated in the Swimming World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, and Berlin, Germany in November 2009.
Lee, who last year helped lead the boys’ varsity swim team to a New England Championship by winning both the 50 and 100-yard freestyle, qualified for the events at the U.S. Open last August. In order to qualify for the events in Sweden and Berlin, Lee had to post at least the second fastest time for men under 18, which he managed to do in the 50-yard freestyle event.
While in Sweden and Berlin, Lee was a member of the United States’ under-18 team, along with other Americans who qualified for the event. Racing against swimmers from all over the world, Lee grew more comfortable on the international stage and gained some experience in international swimming competition. Competitors ranged from ages 14 to 48; however, Lee competed exclusively in the under-18 division.
Lee’s busy schedule in Sweden consisted of the 50-meter freestyle (in which he earned his best result, 37th place), the 100 meter freestyle, and the 50 meter butterfly event, which, according to Lee “is not a regulation event, but they had it for fun at this meet.” In Berlin, he had a similarly packed schedule as he participated in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, and the 100-meter individual medley, which again is not an Olympic event, but was put in place in order to give some swimmers more time competing with their respective age groups.
Though Lee spent a lot of time in the pool, the trip was not all about the competition. While at the event, Lee had the opportunity to swim, meet, and talk with Michael Phelps, the 12-time Olympic gold medalist, and world record holder for the 100 and 200-meter butterfly events.
Meeting Phelps, however, was not Lee’s favorite part of the event. “I was fortunate enough to talk to the record holder of the 50 freestyle, Frederick Bousquet,” said Lee.
Bousquet, hailing from France, not only holds the world record for the 50-meter freestyle event at 20.94 seconds, but he was also the first man to swim the slightly shorter 50-yard freestyle event under 19 seconds. Meeting a man who excelled so greatly and holds records in Lee’s best events proved to be one of the highlights of an event that was already filled with the excitement of competing with and against Olympians from around the world.
While competing in Europe, Lee also got the opportunity to do a little bit of tourism around Stockholm and Berlin. In Stockholm, he had the opportunity to walk around the city, enjoying all of the exciting things that the city had to offer, and in Berlin, he took a bus tour during which he got to see numerous historical sights, including the remains of the Berlin Wall.
“I really enjoyed racing with all the Olympians. The event was an excellent way to be introduced to the level of international swimming.”