Of the three features on champion swimmer Michael Phelps inspired by his Olympic exploits, unfortunately only the least interesting--filed by NBC's Chris Jansing--is available online. Jansing told us of the Phelps Effect, the increasing popularity of lap swimming at pools nationwide. Not available is ABC's David Muir contacting Mark Spitz, the 1972 Olympic champion whose record may be about to be eclipsed by Phelps: "There is only one other guy in this whole world that knows what he is going through and that is me," Spitz stated proudly, before offering a gracious conclusion. "It is time for somebody else." Also unavailable on CBS is Barry Petersen's anatomy lesson to explain why Phelps is uniquely built to swim fast. He has the torso and wingspan of a man four inches taller; he has short legs and hyperflexible ankles allowing him to flip huge feet; and his metabolism produces less fatigue-inducing lactic acid than most other athletes.
Rounding out NBC's Beijing coverage, Carl Quintanilla offered a conventional up-close-and-personal profile of a member of the USA team. Shot putter Reese Hoffa has two mothers because he was sent to an orphanage when he was four years old after he and his brother burned their house down. His adoptive mother and his birth mother now both cheer him on. Mark Mullen's feature has a harder edge. It followed China's Project 119, the intensive sports camps for children founded in 2001 to produce Beijing medals across the sports spectrum. "Schoolwork takes a back seat to hours of rigorous practice under the watchful eye of their coaches. Family takes a back seat as well…classmates live full time at school seeing their parents only a few days a year."
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