Winning an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games is a goal that I had since the age of seven, having watched the 1972 Munich Games and the performances of athletes like Mark Spitz and Dave Wottle (800 Metres, track and field). Being able to come back in 1992 and win when most did not give me much of a chance to win - because of my age, the fact that I was out of the sport for three years, and following the disappointment of 1988 - was tremendously fulfilling.
My final race at NCAAs gave me my eleventh individual title, eclipsing the previous record of 10 held by John Naber, a hero of mine from the 1976 Olympics. There had been a great deal of talk about the record and pressure to win the 11th title. In the race I went up against Anthony Mosse, the great 200 Butterflier from New Zealand, who was my teammate from Stanford, and who had gone 1:57 low to win the Commonwealth Games the summer before and who had been swimming great all of the collegiate season, whereas I had been struggling in this event. I felt I needed to execute the perfect race to win. Despite the pressure, I felt I focussed and executed about as perfect a race as I was capable.
Because the morning preliminary swim of 53 low felt so effortless, I was going for the world record in the final. In truth, at the time, it was as important to me that the swim was under 53 and a life best time as the fact that it was a world record. However, as the record held up over time, eventually extending to nine years before Pankratov's swim, I appreciated more and more the fact that it was a world record and that it survived those years.