For U.S. Swimmers, Team Effort Brought Stunning Success In An Individual Sport

  Maya DiRado after her upset win over Hungary's Katinka Hosszu in the 200 backstroke.  DiRado had a full set of medal colors in individual events and a second gold in 4 x 200 free relay.

Maya DiRado after her upset win over Hungary's Katinka Hosszu in the 200 backstroke.  DiRado had a full set of medal colors in individual events and a second gold in 4 x 200 free relay.

Maybe it came from the team’s group music video, “Carpool Karaoke,” which has drawn 4.6 million YouTube views in the first 12 days since going online.

Maybe it came from the cowbell ringing in the warm-up pool to salute each U.S. swimmer as he or she went to the ready room before a race.

Maybe it came from assistant coach Greg Meehan’s history-lesson-cum-motivational-ploy of having each of the women swimmers plant an American flag on grass near their building in the Olympic village, claiming the land for their own the way the 1862 Homestead Act had encouraged settlers to move West.

Maybe it came from the “ice-breaker games” Meehan, the Stanford women’s head coach, had the team play at their pre-Olympic training camps in the U.S. Those games were designed to last five minutes but sometimes turned into 45 minutes of belly-laugh bonding.

Maybe it came from the positive vibes created as swimmer after swimmer had stunning performances in practice at those camps in San Antonio and Atlanta.

Or maybe it was all those reasons, both intangible and real, that explain how 47 athletes in an individual sport created a team that utterly – and a bit surprisingly – dominated the eight days of Olympic swimming that ended Saturday.

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