Animals take spotlight throughout fairgrounds
It was another rematch in pool with Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps going head-to-head on Sunday at the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo.
The two swimmers waddled to the starting blocks, looking pumped to swim a race unusual to their profession — the duck paddle.
The swimmers were actually ducks named after the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champions. They were also accompanied by two other ducks named after Olympic champions Elizabeth Beisel and Missy Franklin in lanes three and four, respectfully.
The ducks competed in the Great American Duck Race, which gave children as young as 2 a chance to choose a duck to race for a prize. Prizes included a duck call whistle and a T-shirt.
The race begins when children place a duck in the water, releasing it when they hear a whistle. The ducks swim about five meters in a race that lasted less than a second.
The event was organized by Robert Duck — yes, Duck — 12-time winner of the Great American Duck Race of Deming, N.M.
Duck said he raises and races ducks for a living and he loves sharing the experience with kids across the country.
“I’ve been doing this for a while and it still amazes me how much people come out and show their support for it,” he said.
“I think my largest audience is children because they love animals more than adults.”
Four-year-old James Taylor, who used Phelps in his race, said he never held a duck before and it was fun to see the ducks swim and quack in the water.
“Those ducks were fast,” he said.
Taylor’s mother, Tammie, said her son was hesitant at first to hold the duck, but after she showed him how easy it was, he wanted to try.
“He’s a very curious kid and he’s always ready to try new things, but sometimes he just needs a push of encouragement,” she said.
In the duck race between Lochte, Phelps, Beisel and Franklin, Phelps took the gold — of course — winning Taylor a duck whistle.
The fair and rodeo is scheduled to continue through Saturday.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .