The Olympics are internationally-renowned for the stories of triumph, overcoming the odds and incredible athletic feats. The story of Eric the Eel is definitely a story of triumph and overcoming the odds - though incredible athletic feat? That's questionable.
Yet, his win at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 remains one of the greatest Olympic stories of all time.
Not so much discovered as 'rediscovered' in my Olympic excitement this week, the story of Eric Moussambani is as uplifting as it is miraculous. Eric, a competitor from Equatorial Guinea, took to the pool at the Sydney Olympic games after winning a wild card spot for developing nations.
In the lead up to the games, Eric used to train in a hotel building whose pool measured only 13 metres, a far cry from the 100 he would eventually need to swim at Sydney 2000. In between the three hours he'd get at the hotel, he also used to train in the river and at the beach - where fisherman basically explained to him how not to sink.
He arrived at the Olympic Games in Sydney and started to learn how to swim. After arriving.
When his heat finally rolled around, he had to face two other competitors in his heat - Karim Bare of Niger and Farkhod Oripov of Tajikistan. The two other competitors jumped onto the starting block, side by side with Moussambani, and limbered up for the water sprint they were about to endure.
The starter readied the three men to jump, letting out their standard "take your marks" and...
Eric's two rivals jumped the gun. Eric teetered on the edge of his starting block.
A little confused, a little nervous.
But he never jumped in.
Bare and Oripov were disqualified for the false start, which meant, in lane five, all alone, Eric Moussambani would swim this heat.
He lined up again, the crowd rose, cheered, clapped, hollered. They didn't know what to expect, they couldn't.
They all existed in a time before Eric the Eel. A time where Olympic swimmers were doing the 100m in less than 50 seconds. A time where the giants, Ian Thorpe and Pieter van den Hoogenband, clashed in the pool.
The crowd didn't know what was about to happen.
Then, after the characteristic muffled beep of the swimming pool filled the arena, Eric jumped in.
No, he charged in. He only learnt how to properly dive into a pool days before.
By the time the race was over he'd set a new world record.
The slowest time in the 100m Freestyle ever, at almost two minutes it was double that of the current Olympic champion.
'Eric the Eel' was born.
Remarkably, with no competitors, he also won the heat. At the same time, he brought the entire country - a swimming-mad nation in the throes of Thorpe Fever - to tears.
Of course, the story of competitors not quite living up to the Olympic standard traces back through a number of Olympic events. Notoriously, 'Eddie the Eagle' took to the ski jumping event at the 1988 Winter Olympic games, failing spectacularly but - perhaps more than anyone else - embodying what the Olympics are all about.
Having a bloody red hot go.
On ya, legends.
Today I Discovered is a daily dose of facts for Lifehacker readers - the weird, wonderful and sometimes worrying. This week we're pulling out some of the Winter Olympics most bizarre stories. Let us know if you discovered anything that blew your mind in the comments!