Aimee Berg FINA World Aquatics Magazine Correspondent (USA)

Perhaps the most indelible image of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the underwater photo finish of the men's 100m butterfly final. Michael Phelps was vying for his seventh gold medal of the Games (in a quest to win eight).

But he and Milorad Cavic of Serbia appeared to hit the wall at the same time. In fact, Cavic touched it first.*

But touch alone wasn't enough to win Olympic gold. Stopping the clock also required a certain amount of pressure on the touch-pad at the end of the lane - and Phelps was the first to apply the right pressure. So silver and gold that day was not really separated by a fraction of a fingernail, but a few kilograms of force.

Cavic accepted the result.

Four years later in London, in a highly-anticipated rematch, Phelps passed six swimmers in the final 50 metres to win gold again, and Cavic finished with the third-fastest time. But there was a tie for second place (between Chad le Clos and Yevgeny Korotyshkin), so Cavic was denied a medal and bumped to fourth place.
Finally, in 2012, after four Olympics (and one silver medal), Cavic was done at the age of 28.

"I retired knowing that I did every single thing that I possibly could have done to be my best," Cavic said in October last year. "I knew I had nothing more to give, and knew I could never be better than that again."

Cavic took a job in financial planning in San Diego and opened a swim school in Kragujevac, in central Serbia. Most recently, however, he signed a one-year deal to work as an assistant swimming coach at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Why LSU?

"I was looking for a place I'd be able to make an impact right away," he said. "I wanted to be where a head coach will listen to my ideas."

So in September 2017, Cavic began training middle-distance swimmers ("200 yards and above") - both male and female.

"My hope is to be here at least four years because that's enough time for me to confidently say that I developed a group of athletes from this point to this point," he said.

"We think it's very, very realistic to get into top 20 of the NCAA rankings in the next year or two, possibly the top 15. It's an ambitious jump. The men are 27th right now. [Women are 21st.] Personally, I feel that the team is going to find my contributions from a technical side very, very useful."

Asked to elaborate, the 33-year-old Cavic explained his approach to coaching Division-1 swimmers, how he reconciles that with the way he used to train, and what it was like to watch Rio from home. He also discussed fatherhood and offered advice to athletes hoping to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

* Omega Timing's general manager, Christophe Berthaud, publicly confirmed that Cavic touched first

The full interview is available in the latest issue of the FINA Aquatics World Magazine here