Twelve years ago, Eric "The Eel" Moussambani became a cult hero at the Sydney Olympics when he ran a 100-meter freestyle heat (a) as the only swimmer, due to two other DQs, and (b) in the slowest 100-meter freestyle performance the Olympics had ever seen. Now he's coming back—sort of.

In 2000, Moussambani "won" his heat with a time of 1:52.72—more than a minute off the world record—perhaps due to the fact that he had never before swum in an Olympic pool. That's most definitely due to the fact that Equatorial Guinea had no full-length swimming pools. The crowd of 17,000 gave him a standing ovation and Eric The Eel became an instant sensation (though he still didn't qualify for the semifinals). The UK Guardian recently named it one of the 50 most stunning moments in Olympic history, and after the race he said, "I felt like I had won a medal or something." He tried to return for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but a visa screwup ended that chance.

Life for an Olympic swimming hopeful in Equatorial Guinea has improved somewhat in the dozen years since. There is now at least one Olympic-size pool in the country, and Moussambani, who's been working in the oil industry for the last few years, has taken the top job as coach of the team. Moussambani did eventually train enough to get his personal best down to around 57 seconds, so don't expect any similar performances from his team this summer in London. Dare to dream, though.

[UK Guardian]