The English commentator veered from disbelief to anger and then, finally, to mirth.
It was the opening heat of the men's 100 meters freestyle swimming at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, but only one man was standing on his block: Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea, a tiny, oil-rich state in west Africa.
There had been two other swimmers to compete with -- one from Niger, the other from Tajikistan -- but both had jumped the gun, dived in to the pool and been disqualified.
The crowd cheered, the gun fired and the 22-year-old dived in.
Suddenly he was on his own.
What followed was one of the most memorable two minutes in Olympic history, one that would embody something far away from the podiums that honor the motto of the modern Games: "Faster, higher, stronger."
During the first 50 meters Moussambani appeared to be holding his own, but by the turn things had gone very wrong. At one point he appeared to stop, treading water to catch his breath before continuing.
"This guy," remarked the commentator for British TV, who was none other than Adrian Moorhouse, gold medalist in the same discipline at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, "he's not going to make it ... I'm convinced this guy is going to have to get hold of the rope in a minute."
'Me against the swimming pool'
Looking back today, Eric Moussambani is hard pressed to disagree with him.
"It was me against the swimming pool," he recalls with a laugh.
"I didn't care about anything else, I just wanted to finish the race ... When I went to Australia that was the first time I had seen an Olympic swimming pool. I was scared of the dimensions."
Somehow he managed to crawl to the end, posting a time of one minute 52.72 seconds. The man who would eventually win gold in the event, Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands, would finish the final in 48.30 seconds,
His swim made him an instant star of the Sydney Olympics -- dubbed "Eric the Eel" by the world's media -- and lampooned around the world for positing the worst time in the history of the sport. But it also reminded the world that there's far more to the Olympic spirit than just victory.
A voice on the radio
Moussambani didn't start out as a swimmer. Growing up in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, he excelled at soccer and basketball. But one day, three months before the start of the Sydney Olympics, he heard an advert on the radio with an intriguing offer.
"I heard on the radio that they (the Equatorial Guinea National Olympic Committee) needed swimmers, so I went and put my name down," he recalls.
He may not have wanted to be an Olympic swimmer but, having practiced in a local river, Moussambani decided to give it a shot. When he arrived at the hotel in Malabo where the trial was to take place, he soon discovered that the competition was nonexistent.
"We were called for the selection, and I was the only person who was there!" he says.
"So nobody came. For two hours we were waiting. I was the only one. That was in the only hotel that had a pool, a 12-meter swimming pool. They told me to get in and asked if I could swim."
After proving that he could swim, Moussambani was told that he would be heading to Sydney after securing a place on the Equatorial Guinea Olympic team, a place that had been gifted by the International Olympic Committee's wildcard system that gave less developed nations a chance to send athletes to the Games to gain experience.
"They just told me to get my passport and a picture ready so they could send me to the Olympics. They said to me, 'Keep on training.' I asked them, 'With who? I don't have a trainer.' They said: 'Do what you can. Keep training because you are going to the Olympics.' "
Preparations were tough for Moussambani. There was no Olympic-sized pool in Equatorial Guinea and the hotel pool was only of limited use. Still, he left for Australia for the first time knowing that, if nothing else, it would be an adventure.
"The Olympic Games was something unknown for me," he says.
"I was just happy that I was going to travel abroad and represent my country. It was new for me. It was very far from Africa."