A little back story...in an effort to include more developing nations in the Olympics, the IOC granted wildcard spots to athletes like Eric, who before competing at the 2000 games in Sydney, had never even swam in an Olympic sized pool. Eight months prior to the Games, without a coach, Eric began training for the 50m freestyle in a 20m pool at a local hotel. When he arrived in Sydney, with only about $100 spending money, he found out there had been some miscommunication and he'd be swimming the 100m freestyle. 50 meters further than the event he'd trained for!! But he did it. And it was not pretty and really freaking hard and people laughed, but it was absolutely incredible.
You know how when actors need to cry for a scene they imagine terrible things happening to their loved ones? Well if I was an actor, this would always be the visualization I used for tears. Hands down. No doubt about it. It gets me every time. This (and Kerri Strug landing her vault and Ryan Lochte's chest and Roland Gardner beating the undefeated Russian and Carly Patterson and well, you get the point) is what the Olympics is all about and why I'm a devoted fan.