When Michael Phelps dropped out of the 200 freestyle for the upcoming Olympics, Ricky Berens found out the same way as a lot of people: by reading it on Twitter. There was one slight difference. When Berens read the news, it meant he'd get to swim an individual event at the Olympics for the first time in his career.
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The 2008 relay gold medalist finished third in last week's 200 free, enough to qualify him for a relay in London, but not enough to get into the individual field. By virtue of Phelps sitting out the event, Berens moved up a spot and earned his spot to London.
His realization process played out in real-time on Twitter. It began with an announcement from Bob Bowman that Berens reteweeted and commented on:
Though the news came straight from the fingers of Michael Phelps' coach, Berens didn't allow himself to get too excited. There wouldn't seem to be a more unimpeachable source than Bob Bowman, but when things like an Olympic berth are on the line, you never want to assume anything.
After a few more sources confirmed, Berens couldn't fight the feeling anymore:
And then came official word:
Berens then spent the next few hours responding to more than 50 followers who had passed along their congratulations.
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Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports talked to Berens on Monday and the Olympian described his thought process during the hectic few minutes:
"If anything, I thought he would drop the 400 IM," Berens told Yahoo! Sports. "Then I saw the tweet and it said 200 free. I was like, 'Wait, what?' I went back to re-read it again and said to my roommate [at Trials), Eric Shanteau, 'My God, dude, I think I'm swimming the 200 free at the Olympics.' "
Behrens tried calling Bowman and Phelps to confirm but couldn't reach them. Then USA Swimming confirmed it, and he sprinted off to find his girlfriend, Olympic breastroker Rebecca Soni. He interrupted her massage to tell her the news.
More Olympic coverage from Yahoo!:
• Five chosen for U.S. women's gymnastics to compete in London Games
• Jesse Owens marched into Hitler's Germany and won four gold medals
• Michael Phelps tops Ryan Lochte in 200-meter individual medley showdown