|A member of the Danish Olympic squad, pictured on part of his 21 year visit to a semi-autonomous island in the Atlantic|
Having straddled both countries for all my life, I can say without a doubt it's way more fun to cheer for Denmark. It's also far more stressful. The meet got off to a rousing start when Jeanette Ottesen Gray ripped her way through the heats and semi's of the 100 butterfly. In the US, it's hard to imagine being really excited about a 5th place finish, but Ottesen Gray's 100 fly was just that. Prior to this meet, her lifetime best in the 100 fly was 57.58, and that was back in the "suit" days. She had never been under 58 in textile and went 57.2 in the semi's. Likewise, the Danish women making the final in the 4x100 freestyle was a huge surprise, with Ottesen and the recently much improved Pernille Blume teaming up with a woman for whom the 400 is too short of a race (Lotte Friis) and a 15 year old wide eyed backstroke (Mie Ø. Nielsen) to finish 5th.
The rubber hits the road starting tonight for team Denmark. First, Rikke Møller Pedersen needs to have her world stage breakthrough in the 200 breaststroke, having already proved her mettle in European competition. With Rebecca Soni looking invincible in the semi it seems that silver is the best Danish fans can hope for. I would leap for joy with any medal.
Likewise Lotte Friis is either the favorite or the almost favorite in the 800 free, depending on how you feel about Rebecca Adlington. Adlington has a homecrowd boost and beat Friis (as expected) in the 400, but Friis always improves the longer the race.
Even if Denmark emerges with just one medal, as they did in Beijing, the progress is measurable. More finals, more chances and records (even suited) being blown away. If you're five days into the games and still looking for a lively underdog in swimming, there's still some time to jump on the Danish bandwagon. Seriously, there plenty of seats available.
Also, did I mention that they have some guy racing the 1500 tomorrow?