As worldwide media reported Tuesday that Michael Phelps had just become the most decorated Olympian ever, he was busy giving a quick heads-up to a group who still had no idea — his own teammates.
Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens, who swam second and third, respectively, after Ryan Lochte started the 4x200 freestyle relay race that would give Phelps the record, told Matt Lauer on TODAY Wednesday they were in the dark about Phelps' imminent achievement.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know about the 19 medals,’’ Berens said. “(Phelps) told us after the race. He huddled us all together and he said, ‘Just want you guys to know I just broke the medal record.’’
“I had no idea until he huddled us up after, and he got pretty emotional about it,’’ Dwyer said. “We were just going out there trying to get him as big a lead as possible.’’
The medal record was previously held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina. The win Tuesday also marked a repeat for the Americans, who won the gold in that same relay in 2008. Phelps, Lochte and Berens were part of that Beijing team, while Dwyer is a first-time Olympian.
“There’s always a lot of pressure at the Olympics,’’ Berens said. “This is when all eyes are on swimming, especially on Michael Phelps and what he’s doing, so to repeat with the competition so much greater than it was in 2008 is incredible.’’
“It was something special, especially with Michael breaking the record and making history,’’ Dwyer said. “It was a blast to be on the relay, and it’s easy with these three guys being so good. It takes a lot of pressure off.’’
Once Team USA brought home the win, it was time for a pig-out. After the race, Berens tweeted, “Finally!!!! The end of season celebration dinner! mcdonalds!! Yes all for me!” He included a picture of a tray loaded with a Big Mac, two quarter pounders, two cartons of fries, six McNuggets and a milk shake. Dwyer got in on the action, too, as they obliterated their diets together.
“We put so much pressure on this meet,’’ Berens said. “We sacrifice so much for the Olympic Games and we eat so healthy and try to do everything right. It’s just our time to just relax. That McDonald’s sitting in the dining hall has just been calling our name in the last two weeks.’’
The two continued to ignore their diet on TODAY Wednesday when they piled down British cheeses prepared by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis.
Olympic swimming gold medalists Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens chow down on some British cheese prepared by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis on TODAY Wednesday.
It's been a hectic time for Berens, who has spent more time with that McDonald’s tray than with his girlfriend, fellow U.S. swimmer Rebecca Soni. With a silver in the 100-meter breaststroke under her belt, Soni will race Thursday in the 200 breaststroke. Saturday, she'll swim the 4x100 medley relay.
“I’ve seen her for a total of like 30 seconds,’’ Berens said.
This might be the final Olympics for Berens, 24. “I got a lot to think about,’’ he said. “It’s a hard place to be in. I would love to go out on top the way I did at this Olympic Games, but I’m also still very young. I probably haven’t taken more than two weeks off of swimming since high school and this is my chance to really take a break and relax.’’