All kinds of news from the water sports over the past few weeks...surely you've already seen SI's coverage of the Olympic swim trials - a phenomenal outing for Michael Phelps and company, with a stunning event to come in Beijing inside one of the most beautiful arenas ever constructed for the sport: the Water Cube, part of Beijing's Olympic Green.
Today, though, comes news that Phelps' quest for eight gold medals, compelling as it is as a pure athletic achievement, might just take a back seat, at least for a day or two at the Olympics, by the challenges facing Eric Shanteau, the surprise second-place finisher in the 200-meter breaststroke when favorite Brendan Hansen faded late in the race. Shanteau told the Associated Press that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer a week before the Trials, and that he is going to delay treatment - which will include surgery - until his Olympics are over. He's said he'll reconsider if tests show the cancer spreading, but for now, with reassurances from his doctors that the cancer has not spread, he's going to continue with his improbable Olympic dream. Our thought go out to him and his family as he pursues that dream - one that any Olympian will tell you is the chance of a lifetime. Sometimes you don't get a second chance, and it makes perfect sense that Shanteau has decided to pursue the Olympics.
In other water-sports news, the world #1 ranked USA women's water polo team played last night at Stanford University. The Americans beat Australia, 7-5, in front of a crowd of 2,969 fans. The San Jose Mercury News reports this was believed to be the largest crowd ever to watch a women's water polo match in the United States. The women's team starts its Olympic quest on August 11 in Beijing, going up against...wait for it...China. The U.S. men's team, #9 in the world, opens against China a day earlier.