(ATR) Georgia Tech reached a new chapter in Olympic history as Team USA Olympic swimmers held their open practice at the McAuley Aquatic Center. The venue was first used by Olympians during the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Thousands of families and fans gathered as early as sunrise on July 30 to take part in the momentous event.
"We’re so impressed and grateful to you being here since 5 a.m.," said Frank Busch, national team director for USA Swimming. "Our hats are off to you, Atlanta."
The highlight of the practice was Michael Phelps - winner of the most Olympic medals in history, 18 Olympic gold medals and 22 overall - who plans to retire for the second time after this year’s Games. His personal coach Bob Bowman said Phelps looked as strong as ever.
Fellow co-captain Allison Schmitt said, "People didn't know anything (about swimming) before Phelps. He has definitely changed it a lot and he will continue to change it a lot past his retirement."
Phelps and his teammates won't be the only swimmers drawing media attention at the Olympics as many keep a close eye on Russian swimmers who have been declared eligible to compete at the Games following a massive doping scandal in the country.
Jay Litherland tells Around the Rings the U.S. team isn't too concerned with the doping scandal.
"That is definitely something that is controversial and I don’t want to go too deep into it but I think as a team …we`re just going to try to bring our A-game and we`re not really focused on our competitors too much."
The USA swimming team moved their training camp from Puerto Rico to Atlanta over the threat of the Zika virus.
Zika has proven a major worry for many ahead of the Games in Brazil but Litherland seems to not be too worried about that either.
"Team USA has done a great job of helping us avoid getting it. They’ve given us a bunch of bug spray and detergent to soak our clothes in, bed nets, just a lot of stuff." he tells ATR.
"I think we’ll be safe."
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games begin on Aug. 5 and conclude on Aug. 21.
Click here to view the photo gallery.
Written by Courtney Colquitt
Forgeneral comments or questions, click here.
20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about theOlympics is AroundTheRings.com, for subscribersonly.