The Summer Olympics: Ian Thorpe

Oz's teen sensation, a nice guy dry, is a terror in the pool

Is Ian Thorpe the most technically proficient swimmer of all time? Probably not. Is he the most physically powerful freestyler there has ever been? No again. Surprisingly, he is unimpressive in the gym and hopeless at ball sports. But at 6 ft. 4 in. and 200 lbs., with natural buoyancy and a basketballer's feet and hands, he can move water like the moon. His cartoon elasticity, combined with the longest stroke in swimming, makes "Thorpedo" everything his nickname suggests: sleek, smooth, strangely beautiful and, to the competition, lethal. "If you were going to do a Frankenstein," says Brian Sutton, coach of...

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