Forget the quest for gold. That's easy compared to the other stuff swimming star Cameron McEvoy is working on.
In Rio overnight, the man who could bring home four gold medals for Australia detailed what he does in his spare time. Suffice to say, there's no Pokemon Go for this 22-year old.
"I'm not currently involved in the semester coming up but I've been doing research with a professor at my university, Griffith University, since the start of summer last year, so I'll just be carrying on with that stuff," McEvoy said.
Sure, but what exactly has he been working on?
"The dipole of moments of biomolecules," he said.
Unfortunately, matters turned to swimming again after this revelation, and McEvoy declined to elaborate. Thus was your correspondent left to fend for himself in trying to explain what the hell the dipole moments of molecules are all about.
We found this:
Even though the total charge on a molecule is zero, the nature of chemical bonds is such that the positive and negative charges do not completely overlap in most molecules. Such molecules are said to be polar because they possess a permanent dipole moment.
Dipole moments occur when there is a separation of charge. They can occur between two ions in an ionic bond or between atoms in a covalent bond; dipole moments arise from differences in electronegativity. The larger the difference in electronegativity, the larger the dipole moment. The distance between the charge separation is also a deciding factor into the size of the dipole moment. The dipole moment is a measure of the polarity of the molecule.
And a bunch of other stuff we barely understood, and which we really didn't think we'd be researching today after a pre-Olympic press conference with Australia's five best-credentialled current Olympic swimmers.
The thing you really need to know about Cameron McEvoy is that the swimmer dubbed "the professor" uses all this scientific stuff to help his swimmer. True story, kids. Being smart actually makes you better at sport. Really.
Earlier this year, McEvoy revealed that when he stands on the blocks before a race, he sometimes imagines what aliens might think of humanity as they look down from space. It's his unique method of reducing pressure at major swim meets.
McEvoy is also into string theory, quantum gravity, cosmology, particle physics, and assorted other light throwaway subjects. His physics professor Erik Streed told the ABC earlier this year that McEvoy has "curiosity, passion and drive".
"That combination, it's really quite extraordinary," the research leader at Griffith Uni's Institute for Glycomics said. (And if you want to know what the hell Glycomics is, click here)
Anyway, we could talk about science all day. Actually, no we couldn't. Truth be told we probably wouldn't last the minute. The main thing you need to know here is that Australia has itself one seriously smart guy who also happens to be favourite to win the prestigious 100m freestyle event. He's also a huge chance in the 50m freestyle and two relays.
"The message first and foremost is you don't have to be pigeonholed into some small area of life," McEvoy said in that interview earlier this year. "You can go along and do many things if you're passionate about it."
Which might just be the most inspirational thing any athlete says these entire Olympics.Suggest a correction