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You don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy Michael Phelps

Forget the Orioles for the time being and their faltering pitching and stumbling defense. Forget the Ravens for a while and their three-way quarterback competition.

Now is a time for Baltimore (and the world, for that matter) -- whether you're a sports fan or just a fan of the idea that the combination of a lifetime of hard work, enormous talent and steadfast determination is indeed a wonder to watch – to enjoy Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

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Last night, the 23-year-old from Towson won gold medals No. 10 and No. 11 of his career, more than any other person in the history of the Olympic Games, and the fourth and fifth of the Beijing Olympics keeping him on track to surpass Mark Spitz' record of seven golds in a single Olympics.

His latest triumphs last night were the 200-meter butterfly and as part of the 800-meter freestyle.

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The first was made more difficult by the fact that Phelps' goggles filled with water when he entered the pool at the beginning of the race. The second was a magnificent triumph for the Americans as the four of them, with Phelps as the lead-off, crushed the world record by five seconds, and such was the American lead that the anchor man, Peter Vanderkaay, looked like Secretariat in the home stretch of the Belmont he was so far ahead of the competition.

But back to the goggles, how bitter would it had been had those goggles – with water keeping Phelps from seeing his competition or the walls of the pool – been the reason that he missed the gold in the 200 butterfly.

Instead, it merely becomes an interesting anecdote in the larger story of stunning triumph.

So enjoy.

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