Swim with the Stars

by Frank Anzalone, staff writer

All the swimmer participants, with Disneyland president Matt Oiumet (left). Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Michael Phelps, Lenny Krayzelburg and Ian Crocker were joined by local swim club champions to participate in this first ever historic “swim meet” this week right Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. The Olympians have been traveling, doing special appearances on this tour since they left Athens, and ended their 12-city cross-country tour at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Ian Crocker, Michael Phelps, Mickey Mouse, and Lenny Krayzelburg. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

But how in the world could Disneyland put on a real swim meet on Main Street, where there is no water to be found?

Matt Ouimet (president of Disneyland) introduces the event. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

To get ready for this historic event, Disneyland cast members constructed a real swimming pool in just less than 30 hours! This pool measured 164 feet long (50 meters) by 24 feet feet wide (3 swimming lanes) and 3.5 feet deep. These 103,944 gallons of water were heated to a comfortable 80 degrees for the Olympic swimmers and their teams.

Main Street Olympic pool (164' long [50 meters], 24' wide, 4' deep, 103,044 gallons of water heated to 80 degrees), is lined with enthusiastic fans. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Main Street was packed with park guests lining the sides of this special pool. As the Olympic medalists arrived, the cheering and loud greetings were almost deafening. These men were not only great athletes; they were treated like celebrities and heartthrob hunks. Many in the crowd held up handmade signs with well wishes and pictures—but there were quite a few signs that displayed phones numbers with the invitation, “Michael – Call Me!”

Ian Crocker and Michael Phelps prepare for their leg of the relay. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Michael Phelps and his team: Kylee Wren, Jordyn Moreno, and Taylor Melliroger. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Lenny Krayzelburg and his team: Joey Fuentes, Shannon Rero, and Madisoro Parenteau. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

For this event, local youth swim champions ranging in age from 5 to 15 were invited to participate in a four-leg 200-meter relay. Two-time gold medalist Ian Crocker was joined by team members Paul Lovely, Chris Trimmer, and Chelsea Riley. Four-time gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg was joined by team members Madisoro Parenteau, Jeoy Fuentes, and Shannon Reroz. Michael Phelps, six- time gold medal and two-time bronze meda winner, was joined by team members Kylee Wren, Taylor Melliroger, and Jordyn Moreno.

Ian Crocker and his team: Paul Lovely, Chris Trimme, and Chelsea Riley. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

The relay began with the youngest members of the teams. As they started their way down the length of the pool, little 5-year-old Paul Lovely was trying his hardest but not making much headway against the other swimmers. The three Olympic swimmers noticed this, and dove into the pool to swim out to him. In a touching moment perfect for the Happiest Swimming Pool on Earth, the men surrounded Paul and helped him to the end of his relay leg. The audience was really touched to see these big athletes helping the up-and-coming fellow swimmer, and it stole the show!

The Olympic swimmers help 5-yr-old participant Paul Lovely with his leg of the relay. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Lenny Krazelburg gestures to the park guests as Ian Crocker and Michael Phelps help 5-yr-old Paul out of the pool. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Mickey presents the gold medals to “Team Krayzelburg.” Photo by Frank Anzalone.

After the friendly competition, Michael, Ian, and Lenny enjoyed the excitement of the rest of day in Calfornia sunshine as they gave personal interviews with the media and signed autographs for the guests.

Lenny Krayzelburg, Wendy (from KABC TV in Los Angeles), Ian Crocker, and Michael Phelps do a live spot for ABC-TV channel 7 in Los Angeles. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

In the middle of all the hoopla, however, Michael Phelps made sure to spend a little quality time with that young swimmer he assisted during the relay. Paul Lovely and Michael sat in a quiet corner of the media stage, as Michael showed Paul the gold Mickey medal, talked to him and gave him words of encouragement. Added to the caring shown earlier in the pool, hopefully the quiet one-to-one encounter with Michael is a moment youth that will remember.

Michael Phelps shares a quiet moment on stage with 5-yr-old swimmer Paul Lovely after the relay event. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Michael Phelps presents a gold Mickey medal to 5-yr-old swimmer Paul Lovely after the relay event. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

The scope of the logistics of this event for its 45-minute duration was an incredible achievement of logistics. Matt Ouimet (president of Disneyland) was very proud to have this happen at Disneyland as they prepare for the big 50th anniversary next July.

Mickey waits to hand out the gold medals to the swimmers. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Michael Phelps (Olympic 6 time gold medalist - 2 bronze, 2004). Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Lenny Krayzelburg (Olympic 4 time gold medalist 2000, 2004). Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Ian Crocker (Olympic 2 time gold medalist 2000, 2004). Photo by Frank Anzalone.