The only problem with writing about the Olympics, and there is only one in my mind since I LOVE the Olympics, is waiting for all the trials to be over and the team members to be official chosen. So many qualifying trials, including swimming, feel like last
minute around here. Britain has their swim teams chosen while trials for US swimmers will begin on June 25th and finish July 2nd. That gives the USA team members just a couple of weeks to get ready for London. But they can do it. We did phenomenally back in Beijing. Phelps brought home eight gold medals.
I swim. I joined the swim team in high school and loved every minute of it. I am best (or was best back then) at the quick stuff, 100 back stroke or freestyle. I even participated in several relays, sticking to my strokes. There is nothing better than gliding through the water, making a quick turn, and swimming back to the beginning. So I will watch every single race that I can on the large screen with projector in HD. I will have my popcorn and American flag waving: GO USA!
If you are like me, then there are a couple things to watch for this summer (besides the amazing people racing). First, check out the suits.
In 2008, the US team sported the LZR Racer, a full-body suit that led to a huge time controversy. The suits lowered swim times by 1.9-2.2%, and in a sport where every second counts, that is a HUGE advantage. I expect more people to be wearing them this year. Kind of like the the steroid era in baseball, everyone is doing it so that they wouldn’t be left behind in the standings. Many felt these suits were an unfair advantage.
The controversy over the suits continued even into 2009, when Cavic and Phelps faced each other again.
FINA (FÃ©dÃ©ration Internationale de Natation) dealt with the problem by ruling on the length of the suits. “In 2009 the FINA Congress voted almost unanimously to revert its previous policy and ban all body-length swimsuits. The decision was taken in Rome on 24 July 2009, during the 2009 World Aquatics Championships. The new policy states that men’s swimsuits may maximally cover the area from the waist to the knee, and women’s counterparts from the shoulder to the knee.” (Source)
I wonder how much slower things will move in London’s pool now that the swimsuits have changed. Hopefully spectators don’t blame London or the pool for the racing times.
The second thing to watch for is close finishes. The touch pads at the end of the pool in Beijing gave us some amazing finishes and more controversy. These gave exact times for swimmers, almost making the need for a photo finish obsolete. That said, the photo and video sure came in handy when Michael Phelps beat Cavic to win his seventh medal. That super tight finish represented a mere 1/100 of a second difference.
When technology can give an exact winner, one would hope that it nullifies the controversy of a photo finish. Cavic accepted the results of the race, but later stated he touched the wall first. If both men make it to the London Olympics, it will be an interesting rivalry to watch, and one I will be watching and yelling through.
No matter what, Olympic swimming will be fun to watch.