Many are calling Wednesday's 800-meter relay at the Olympics the most dominating swimming performance in Olympics history.
The team of Ricky Berens, Ryan Lochte, Peter Vanderkaay and Michael Phelps shattered the old world mark by more than four seconds as the Americans became the first team ever to break the seven-minute barrier.
While many associate the gold medal with Phelps, there is one name that is much familiar with those living at Van Buren place.
U.S. men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay team members, from left, Ricky Berens, Ryan Lochte, Peter Vanderkaay and Michael Phelps display their medals during an awarding ceremony after the team set a world record to win the swimming competition in the National Aquatics Center at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing on Wednesday. Berens spent many summers of his childhood at Van Buren.
Berens spent many of his summers as a child at Van Buren with his grandparents. His last visit to Van Buren came last summer for a family reunion.
Berens, competing in his first Olympics at the age of 20, is a junior at the University of Texas in Austin.
"Someone asked him about his age and he said he plans on being at the Olympics again in four years," Berens grandmother Pauline Hill of Charlotte, N.C. who resides in Van Buren during the summers . "He is dedicated. He always wanted to do this. This was his goal since he was a little boy."
Berens' interest in swimming came at an early age as his mother Leslie is a swimming instructor at Meckenburg Aquatic Swim Club in Charlotte where they reside.
While staying at Van Buren during the summers, Berens could be seen playing tennis or swimming in Erie Lake.
See BERENS, Page B4
"He liked to play tennis and go to the beach," Hill said. "That's all we did. We are a game family. We like to play games at night. He was competitive in the games as well."
Berens will not be able to celebrate his gold medal with those at Van Buren as he will return to Charlotte, N.C. for just five days before heading to Austin to begin school.
Not only was Hill overwhelmed watching her grandson win the gold, she was also proud of how well he represented his country as a person.
"It was just wonderful," she said. "I felt so proud. I think the thing that brought tears to my eyes was the next day he was giving interviews on NBC, CBS and ESPN and he just conducted himself so well and answered the questions so well."
Hill admitted she stayed up till 11:20 p.m. Wednesday to watch the race with family and neighbors as well as the opening ceremony where she saw Berens walk into the stadium with the rest of the U.S.A. olympians.
"I saw him at ceremonies and let out a scream when we found him," she said.
Berens is in Beijing with his mother Leslie, father John and sister Jessica.