After months of old fashioned sledging, Merrick the ‘Chicken Torpedo’ (on account of his skinny legs) finally put his goggles where his mouth was and took to the pool for the race of the Century against World Record Holder Ian Thorpe.
On a cold, rainy morning at Caringbah Leisure Centre this week, a crowd of hundreds gathered for a live broadcast of the Merrick and Rosso Breakfast Show to see Mezzo go through with a swimming challenge he issued to Ian Thorpe at the beginning of the year.
“We spoke to Thorpie on the show”, said Merrick, “and I thought that Ian, as talented as he is, could be beaten by the average person if he was given a handicap.”
Surprisingly, Thorpe agreed and after intense negotiations, decided to swim the 200 metre freestyle in an Adidas tracksuit to create some drag, while Merrick would borrow one of Thorpe ‘s special bodysuits.
After many vigorous pool sessions and a radical diet overhaul the day finally arrived. Rosso sounded the siren and the race began, with Merrick diving off the blocks and taking his first frantic strokes down the pool.
15 seconds later and with Merrick a good 25 metres down the lane, Thorpie followed. Despite the sodden tracksuit, Ian Thorpe showed his Gold medal style, slicing through the water and picking up pace.
After the first lap, Merrick was still ahead, but after the second tumbleturn, the Thorpedo powered effortlessly ahead to win the race in a time of 2 minutes and 48 seconds. After such a great start, it was a very tired but triumphant Merrick who got to the finish line 12 seconds later (not counting another 15 seconds of bonus time bought for charity).
“Some people would say that I lost,” said Merrick, “But quite clearly, I just came second. Sure, there were only two people in the race, but that’s not the point,” said Merrick.
Premier Bob Carr was poolside in a special presentation to give the pair their medals .”Merrick has obviously been in training,” commented a surprised Mr Carr, “He’s in very good shape!”
Apart from retaining his crown as the 200 metre freestyle champion and proving to be a top sport, Thorpie also raised $15,000 for his charity, Fountain for Youth. “Thanks to Merrick for putting up a good fight”, said Thorpe, “I know a lot of the people here and I’m really annoyed because you all cheered for Merrick!”.