LONDON – Surreal—it's the best way Olympic Swimmer Davis Tarwater can describe winning a gold medal.
Tarwater came up short at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha in June. And at the time, at 28 years old, he announced his retirement.
What a difference a few weeks made.
Michael Phelps dropped the 200 meter freestyle from his lineup, giving Tarwater a place on Team USA. Now the first-time Olympian has Olympic gold.
"It's pretty indescribable. Not making the team was about as low a moment as I could have in my career," he said. "Then coming back and winning the gold medal is the absolute highest honor you can achieve as an athlete…That kind of roller coaster has been really crazy."
Tarwater was not in the pool for Tuesday's four by 200 meter freestyle relay, though he was a member of the team. He said it was the coach's decision.
His role was to swim the relay in the morning in order to qualify the team for the final heat, and to give those other swimmers a break.
"I thought I made a case to swim at night, or at least I swam really well," Tarwater said. "The coaches made a good call to put Ricky on the team and I supported every decision that was made and I supported Ricky and it was an awesome night for us."
Olympic rules say if a swimmer participates in the preliminary, they still win a medal. But they don't get to stand on the podium.
Overall, SwimMAC is on fire in London. Already, Cullen Jones has a silver medal in the relay, Nick Thoman also earned a silver.
Micha Lawrence qualified for the 200 meter Breaststroke Wednesday morning and will compete in the final event Thursday. Kara Lynn Joyce has the 50 meter Freestyle coming up later t his week.
"Everyone so far has brought home some hardware and I think Micha's going to follow suit," said Tarwater.
As for Tarwater, he has his gold, and he talked about retirement once, so what about now?
"I don't know. I guess the question's now a little bit different," Tarwater said. "I'm just going to absorb the Olympic experience as much as I can and then make a decision after this is all over."