No Phelps? No problem

Are you having a hard time waiting for Michael Phelps' next race? How have you been coping in the 24 hours (21 if you are on the West Coast) since "The Towson Torpedo" brought the Water Cube crowd to its feet with yet another record-setting, gold medal performance? Do you feel anxious and jittery, like a Tour de France rider waiting for his doping results? Are you pacing around the room, muttering about split times, underwater pullouts and flip turns? Did you put in your bid on eBay for his meet-worn and unwashed Speedo? Do you use a stopwatch to time your every activity, from making your bed in the morning to brushing your teeth at night, and celebrate each "personal best" by humming the national anthem, welling up in tears as you find your adoring mother's eyes beaming down from the stands?

Well, I hate to be the one to tell you, but it sounds like you are a Phelpsaholic. And it's going to be another whole day before America's Aquaman hits the water for the 200 meter individual medley finals. And I know tonight's preliminary just doesn't meet your needs. So how can you handle your phrenzied Phelps phetish? Well, now that you've admitted that you have a problem, which is always the first step, here are a few recommendations.

Find someone to talk to who feels your pain and understands the agony you're suffering. Like an NBC executive. Or a golf enthusiast struggling with Tiger Woods' absence from the PGA Tour. The Phelps Phan in the AT&T Wireless commercials doesn't count. She's not a real person, no matter how powerfully you identify with her. Besides, you probably wouldn't be able to get her on the phone anyway.

Reconnect with your family. Take the kids to the pool. Praise them for their swimming skills, but when you find yourself building a medal stand out of the deck chairs, it's time to leave. If you don't have children of your own, find a nine year old boy and make him swim laps until he nearly collapses. I'm sure his parents and the police will understand.

Go to the state or county fair. Resist the urge to swim an individual medley in the dunk tank. Instead, search for the funhouse mirror that makes you look like you have short legs, a long torso and the wingspan of a California condor. Now flex and pose jubilantly until the veins pop out of your neck.

Get in touch with nature. Take a walk. If it's sunny out, wear a cap. Better yet, wear two caps. Just like Michael Phelps would.

If all else fails, try a swimming movie marathon. Start with Pride. After that, Swimfan is a top notch thriller. If black comedy is your bag, try Swimming With Sharks. In the teen comedy genre, we have Swim Team. Spalding Gray's classic monologue piece, Swimming to Cambodia is always a treat, or if you'd just like to be confused by a foreign film, the French film Swimming Pool is would be perfect. If you prefer your cinematic weirdness in good old American English, check out Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer.

That should be more than enough to hold you until tomorrow night. But remember, this is only a temporary fix. After this Saturday, it's four years until the next Olympics and who knows if Phelps will even swim in London in 2012? I'd recommend that you join Phelpsaholics Anonymous first thing Sunday morning; if there's not a PA chapter in your area, don't worry, there will be one soon.

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