Eric the Eel

Diving into the History Books

Nobody had heard of Eric Moussambani when he stepped up to the diving blocks for heat one of the 100 metre freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, but the world certainly knew him when he completed his race almost two minutes later.

Hailing from the West African country of Equatorial Guinea, the 22-year-old qualified to represent his country after trying out in a 12 metre hotel pool against no other competitors. Dividing his swim practice between the tiny hotel pool his local river, Eric travelled to Sydney with no coach or guidance, but with a determination to compete.

Cheered on by the crowd and despite commentators’ concerns that he might not finish, Eric swam the 100 metre length in one minute and 52 seconds. His victory was not that he won, it was that he bravely dove into the deep-end and instead of sinking, he swam.