In the classic TV comedy Friends they famously describe each episode in the channel guide starting with “The one where …” or “The one with …”
This is also how non-swimming people remember swimmers after the Olympics. Something stood out about these swimmers that made them memorable beyond results and performance. These story-telling moments came through a combination of the NBC broadcast, traditional media and social media.
These drive-by Olympic fans may not remember names, events, medals and certainly not times but they do have a sound bite impression that most times fits in a tweet.
It’s called having a “hook” and it’s not a bad thing most times. It’s just how we make associations and keep things in our brain. In fact, with 33 (prior to open water) for the U.S. swim team the athletes need something to separate them and make them memorable from their other medal-winning teammates. We can fight it, but it is reality so why bother?
So, if fans described many of the U.S. swimmers like a Friends episode, it might go like this.
Maya DiRado … The one who won all those medals in her first Olympics and then left to be a consultant
Simone Manuel … The one who cried in the water, on the deck, in the warmup pool, and on the award stand (after becoming the first Black, female swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal)
Ryan Lochte … The one who died his hair ice blue, no green, no blue
Chase Kalisz – the one who is the protégé of Michael Phelps who took a big step toward filling his mentor’s shoes by winning silver in one of his mentor’s best events
Nathan Adrian – the one who is so friendly, generous and consistently fast
Calaeb Dressel … The one with the big tat
Anthony Ervin … The one who won gold 16 years apart with the big tat
Kathleen Baker … The one who lost her pearl earring in the pool
Elizabeth Beisel … The one who played the violin at camp and happy-cried for teammates
Missy Franklin … The one who handled everything with grace and class
Katie Ledecky … The one who had a yellow line chasing her, always
Lilly King … The one who wagged her finger and then won
Allison Schmitt … The one with the infectious laugh
Leah Smith … The one with the infectious smile
Cody Miller … The one who fist pumped the water after his silver medal (after wearing a lobster suit in that video)
Ryan Murphy … The one who continued the American dominance of backstroke
Dana Vollmer … The one who was the mom who came back to win silver
David Plummer … The one who the 30-year-old Olympic rookie and dad who won bronze
Ryan Held … The one who cried on the awards stand, and couldn’t stop, like at all
Michael Phelps … The one who did the #PhelpsFace and also won a lot of medals, laughed on the award stand, cried on the award stand, kissed his beautiful wife and finished the sport as the greatest of all time
Use the #SwimTrends hashtag and be a Swim Trend Spotter yourself and let me know what you think is important for this column and social media.
Matt Farrell is the Chief Marketing Officer of USA Swimming. Follow and share your #SwimTrends using the hashtag or tagging @MattFarrell_ on Twitter.