Lancaster swimmer Bale: Phelps race “amazing to be part of”

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A LANCASTER swimmer says it was amazing to be part of sporting history after lining up against Michael Phelps in the race that saw the American icon become the most decorated Olympian of all time

Former Carnforth Otter Rob Bale swam the third leg for Team GB’s 4x200m freestyle relay team that finished sixth in Tuesday night’s final, won by the United States, meaning Phelps picked up his 15th Olympic gold and 19th in all.

Bale said: “To be part of such an historic moment was something else.

“I’ve raced against him (Phelps) in Rome in 2009 (at the World Championships) but to be part of the relay team when he became the most decorated Olympian of all time was amazing to say we’ve been a part of.”

The 22-year-old, who has been based in Stirling, Scotland for training since April last year but whose family home is on Stanmore Drive, Lancaster, said the relay team, made up of Robbie Renwick, Ieuan Lloyd and Ross Davenport, could be more than satisfied with their efforts at London 2012.

He said: “Robbie went off in his best time since the suits changed and we all swam pretty similar times. To come away with such great times means we can definitely take a lot of positives.”

Like the rest of Team GB, the former Ripley St Thomas pupil says he and the rest of the swimming squad are being spurred on by the incredible home support they’ve received.

He said: “The atmosphere is actually incredible. We had our trials in the Olympic pool in March but to walk out in front of 17,500 people screaming for Great Britain was something completely different that we had never experienced.

“It’s definitely helped all the team.”

And on Tuesday Bale had several members of his family and friends in the partisan crowd.

“My mum, dad, brother, sister, girlfriend, godmother and best friend were all there. One of my primary school teachers from Moorside and her son even got tickets,” he said.

“It’s nice to have such a big support and knowing how much everyone wants to see me race is really big help.”

Back home, Bale knows the Carnforth Otters will have also had a keen eye on his Olympic debut.

He said: “A lot of the parents who coached when I was there have obviously followed my progress and I know when I went to the worlds in 2009 they stopped training and had a big screen up to watch me.

“They’ve been a great support throughout my career.”

As for now, before taking a big holiday, the Lancastrian is soaking up the London 2012 atmosphere for the rest of the games.

“I’m going to stay around the village,” he said.

“There are still people racing so we go down to the pool to support the team. And then I’d really like to go and see some other events as well.

“It’s my first Olympics and it’s a home Olympics which only happens once in a liftetime, so I’m going to enjoy it.

“I’m looking forward to the closing ceremony as well because the swimming team made a team decision not to go to the opening ceremony because some swimmers started the next day.”