Swimming World Presents ‘Takeoff to Tokyo: The 2000 Olympics’ “Sydney 6″‘

Takeoff to Tokyo:
The 2000 Olympics’ “Sydney 6”

By John Lohn

With the 32nd Olympiad slated for next summer in Japan, Swimming World will tip its cap to history. Through its “Takeoff to Tokyo” series, the magazine will examine some of the most significant moments in Olympic lore.

In another hemisphere, as winter gave way to spring, a unique era dawned. Nearly two decades ago, there was belief a group of fresh-faced boys could emerge as mainstays for United States Swimming. As they raced over eight days at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, experts could not help but ask: “Is something special happening here?”

History has proven, time and again, that not all rising talents realize their touted potential. So, strictly from a mathematical perspective, the odds were against these six teenage guys to do what they did.

It’s not that teenagers are unusual on the global scene. Rather, for several to emerge on a simultaneous path—and then continue to grow their careers—is what sets the Sydney Six aside as a distinct group. More, their individual stories included unique arcs.

There was Michael Phelps and the beginning of his climb to the top of Mount Olympus. There was the precocious sprinter in Anthony Ervin, who later in his career would write an epic comeback tale. While Maine-raised Ian Crocker emerged from an unusual locale, Aaron Peirsol was next in a long line of Southern California talents to make his name known. For Klete Keller, an under-the-radar approach became the norm. Then there was Erik Vendt, whose training tenacity and grinder personality served him well.

The scenario that unfolded for Michael Phelps, Anthony Ervin, Ian Crocker, Aaron Peirsol, Klete Keller and Erik Vendt could very well remain unmatched.

To read more about each swimmer of the Sydney 6,
check out the November issue of Swimming World, out now!

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