Swimming stars come alive at Olympics

The early results from Rio are full of great moments in the pool, plus a speedy sport's Summer Games debut
Olympics Katie Ledecky Katie Ledecky (USA) is looking to become her country's (and the world's) most dominant swimmer since Michael Phelps. And she's off to a great start in Rio. (© Cathyr1 | Dreamstime.com)

So, we're three days deep into the Summer Games. Already it feels like everything is going on at once, making it hard to pick any one moment to focus on. But we've got a few things we'd love to talk about that's for sure. Let's start with swimming.

It's all about the pool

Winning gold never gets old for Michael Phelps. (Getty Embed)

There's no question that swimming is one of the absolute pinnacle sports of the Summer Games. And in swimming, there's simply never been anyone like American Michael Phelps. Phelps is 31, and Rio is his fifth Olympics. He actually came out of retirement to participate. And lo and behold, he's won a gold medal (again!), as a member of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team. That's his 19th gold medal, and 23rd medal overall. He is far and away the most decorated Olympian of all time...and he's still got a bunch more events to swim in! We suspect that this won't be the last time we write about him in the next couple weeks.

Meanwhile, The USA hasn't wasted anytime nurturing the next Michael Phelps. Her name is Katie Ledecky, and she is incredible. This 19 year-old is already in her second Games. Like Phelps, she made her Olympic debut when she was only 15, where she blew everyone away by winning gold in the 800m freestyle with the second fastest-time in the event ever. Between those Olympics in London and this year's in Rio, she grew into the most dominant female swimmer in the world. And now in Rio, she just went and did this...

Gold in 400m freestyle and a new world record to boot: 3:56.46. You know that she's just getting started, too.

Canada's new breakout star

Another female swimmer is making waves, too. While the USA leads the early medal table with 12 medals, Canada has 2: 1 silver and 1 bronze. And it has Penny Oleksiak to thank for both of them. Oleksiak isn't quite the star Ledecky is (yet). But the 16 year-old has been a breakout world junior swimming star. These Games are proof that she is ready for the big leagues. First she won bronze anchoring (or swimming the last and most important leg) of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team. It was Canada's first medal in the freestyle relay in 40 years. Then Oleksiak went out and picked up the silver in the 100m butterfly on Sunday. She is the first Canadian to claim medals on the first two days of Olympic competition. Amazing!

Lucky sevens

There is so much more going on at these Games, but we would like to give a shout out to the new kid on the block: Rugby Sevens.

Rugby isn't that popular a sport in North America, but it is as big as the NFL is in many parts of the world (especially countries like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, countries in the United Kingdom). Normally, rugby has 15 players on each team and is played over two 40-minute halves. Rugby Sevens is quite different. Teams have only (wait for it) seven players a side, and the halves only last (no kidding) seven minutes. If this all seems a little odd (get it? Seven? Odd?), the end result is a super exciting sport to watch. The sport is fast, physical, and packs a lot of scoring into a short space of time.

This is the Olympic debut of the sport, and we're especially excited by the women's tournament. Today are the semi-finals and finals (that's how quickly the sport moves — you play a couple matches a day). Three of the teams are known rugby powerhouses: Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. The fourth? Canada! So be sure to check it out (the Canada-Australia match is on at 1:30pm EST) and don't blink!

UPDATE: Canada sadly lost its semi-final to Australia 17–5. But don't fret. It still has a chance at the bronze medal at 5:30pm EST against Great Britain. Though Great Britain beat Canada in an earlier match 22–0, rugby sevens is a sport where the unexpected can happen.

Be sure to let us know what Olympic moments are your favourites so far — we'll be talking about the Games more soon!

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    1. SWIMMING ROCKS ❗ ❗ ❗ GO USA ❗ ❗ ❗ ❗


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