Charlotte's Ricky Berens won a gold medal Tuesday night (Wednesday morning here in Beijing), swimming the third leg on the best 4x200 relay team ever. The powerhouse U.S. team won the relay by more than four seconds and clocked in at just under seven minutes -- the first team ever to break the 7-minute mark.
Here's a picture of Berens on the starting blocks during the first of two relays he swam in Beijing, courtesy of Ricky's father John Berens. Ricky's dad admitted it wasn't the best picture when he e-mailed it to me, but said his hands were shaking so much from the stands when he took the shot (from nervousness) that he's surprised it's in focus at all.
The U.S. has unmatched depth in the 4x200, so whoever made the Final Four on the relay for America was going to get a gold and join Michael Phelps and company on the medal stand.
It's quite a testament to Berens that he made it (with a great performance in the preliminaries). Berens was by far the least well-known of the four American swimmers in the 4x200 final, but that doesn't matter when you have a gold medal hanging around your neck.