Wednesday, August 13, 2008

pool shark

Backyard swimmers like me can take some comfort from the fact that even the best swimmer in the world can find his goggles filled with water. That's what happened to the amazing Michael Phelps last night during the 200 meter butterfly race. Despite the setback, Phelps still set a new world record and added to his collection of gold medals.

The 12-hour time difference between here and China allows me to watch the swimming events live as I type this. Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines are doing a great job announcing. Imagine how they would have sounded describing discontinued Olympic events like the swimming obstacle race, underwater swimming or solo synchronized swimming. Huh?

NBC and ABC both ran stories on their evening newscasts about the technological advances that are helping this year's Olympians set new records in almost every swimming event. The pool inside the Beijing Water Cube is built for speed. Its depth, lane dividers and gutters all reduce the waves that would slow the competitors. Obviously the much-hyped new swimsuits get some credit. NASA engineers helped design a suit that is more streamlined than human skin. Most important is Phelps' training regimen and swimming technique. I heard him say tonight that one of his best tools is his underwater dolphin kick. His huge feet and gigantic wingspan don't hurt one bit.

The new pool technology isn't limited to Beijing or the temporary above-ground tank in Omaha. Last month my son swam in the new Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center at UT. He and the rest of the City Meet swimmers thought it was a fast pool, certainly an improvement over the old Student Aquatic Center.

On my last trip to Atlanta, I had a chance to see the pool used in the 1996 Olympics. It now belongs to Georgia Tech. They put a school logo on the bottom of the diving well. From my perspective, it looked a lot like the handicap symbol in the foreground.

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Anonymous Sandy Weaver Carman said...

LOL...Frank, you're right, it does look more like a handicapped symbol than the Georgia Tech logo. With great hindsight, they probably should have painted Buzz there instead!

Blogger Stephanie Byerly said...

The area around the pool looks so small compared to Bejing. Were there any massive areas of bleachers there?

Blogger Jennifer B said...

I love to swim, but hate when my goggles get water in them (and they always do). Not being a competitive swimmer, I've decided just to swim with my head above water to keep my eyes dry. It makes your neck muscles strong...

Blogger Frank Murphy said...

I took the photos from the balcony that overlooks the pool and diving well. There are seats up there but nowhere near as many seats as at the Beijing Water Cube. Someone told me that the pools may have been outdoors during the 1996 Olympics and that Georgia Tech built the building around them. I will have to look it up.

Blogger Mr. Kazinec said...

Michael Phelps is amazing to watch. When someone is that brilliant at what they do it's hard to not get drawn in to watching. I feel the same way about Peyton Manning.


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