The family of Encinitas-based Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew held a watch party Thursday so his hometown crowd could root for the swim star from afar like so many families of Tokyo Olympic athletes have had to do in this pandemic-era edition of the games.
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Andrew’s mom, sister and other loved ones planned the watch party at Daybreak Church in Carlsbad in San Diego’s North County, and left the doors open for anyone and everyone who wanted to come.
Together – but apart from Andrew – the group watched him take his lane in the final session of the men’s 200m IM. Earlier this week, Andrew posted the fastest time in the men’s 200m IM qualifying race – 1:56:40. That moment was epic, and you can relive it here or below.
On Thursday night though, Andrew had his chance at gold.
He continued his strong swimming from Wednesday grabbing an early lead in the medal race. Andrew got off to a strong start for the butterfly leg and found himself in the lead as he flip turned into the backstroke leg.
Then, just as he approached the wall on his second lap, he was overtaken by Chinese swimmer Wang Shun. But second place didn't last long. Andrew tore through the breaststroke leg and put himself in the lead by more than a second to start the final 50m freestyle sprint.
Andrew slowed down, and by the halfway point of the final lap, he was neck and neck with at least two other swimmers. Unfortunately, he couldn't find the next gear and Wang, Great Britain's Duncan Scott and Switzerland's Jérémy Desplanches all pulled ahead.
The slowdown on the last leg cost Andrew a place on the podium, but hardly muted the cheers back at his hometown watch party. The crowd of family members and friends was with Andrew with every stroke as they followed the race.
"I am so proud of him because I believe that he left everything in that pool," his mother said.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were Andrew's Olympic debut, but he and his family expect a long a productive career with many more medal chances to come.
Who Is Team USA Swimmer Michael Andrew?
Andrew, 22, is a resident of Encinitas who loves to surf those north San Diego County breaks. He was born in Minnesota, grew up in South Dakota and Kansas, and settled in Encinitas in 2018.
The Tokyo Olympics are his first Olympics; though he came close to competing in Rio 2016.
Some other fun facts about the swimmer:
- Andrew stands at nearly 6-foot-6 and is one of the tallest swimmers on Team USA
- Andrew has a successful YouTube channel, with more than 56,000 subscribers
- He has been coached for most of his life by his father, Peter
- While growing up, he trained in Kansas in a two-lane backyard pool
- Andrew's mom, Tina, was on the Great Britain version of “Gladiators”
- He enjoys surfing, sometimes hitting the waves with friend Caroline Marks, who qualified to compete in surfing at Tokyo Games
NBC 7’s Steven Luke caught up with Andrew in Encinitas before they both made their way to the Tokyo Olympics and the swimmer said his biggest supporters are his family.
"Dad's my coach, mom's my agent, my sister is my biggest supporter,” he told NBC 7. “We're always surfing together hanging out and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the family unit that we are.”
It’s that unit that will cheer him on tonight as he lights up his lane at the Tokyo Olympics.