Crowd's support never flags

August 18, 2004|By Kevin Cowherd

In Phelps Country, the leafy slivers of North Baltimore and Towson where Michael Phelps trains and lives, Phelps Fever still rages.

The international media may be treating the 19-year-old swim sensation like yesterday's Paris Hilton story - plenty of room to plop down your laptop at the Olympic aquatic venue now that Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals is no longer threatened. But at Ryan's Daughter, the Irish pub in Belvedere Square that's the home office for Phelps Fever, the crowds that gather nightly to watch NBC's swim coverage (and swill half-price drinks) are unwavering.

"He's a Baltimore favorite - he's this area," said manager Aaron Reinhart. "Everyone [would be] just as proud of him if there were eight golds or no golds."

Of course, Phelps has not exactly performed like the towel boy in Athens. With his win in the 200-meter butterfly and 4 x 200-meter free relay yesterday, he now has three gold and two bronze medals.

When the Games are over, Pat Walunas, general manager of Ryan's Daughter, says he hopes to get Phelps to make a triumphant appearance at Belvedere Square.

A late-summer day, a lanky Olympic hero flashing his 100-watt smile and medals in the bright sunshine as thousands cheer ... they'll sell a few drinks at the pub for sure.

Phelps' medal count: Three gold and two bronze

Phelps Fever

Normal to Delirious (METER)

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