Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Olympic Trial Venue from the Inside

Never before has so much been done to allow a swimmer the best chance to swim fast at a meet. The organizers of the Olympic Trials did a fabulous job and the results that followed were good feedback on how they set up the swimmers to be at their best.

If you followed the action on TV you saw what a beautiful complex it was. Set in an arena that is used more for NCAA basketball games or concerts than a swim meet, by putting in a temporary Myrtha pool into the space they were able to create the ultimate in spectator comfort. It enabled the crowd to feed a wonderful energy to the swimmers that spurred them on in an amazingly fast meet.

What you didn't get to see on TV was the warm up pool that was built underneath the stands that was only accessible to coaches and swimmers. There was a full size 50 meter 8 lane pool, with another 8 lanes of 25 meter space available for warm up or warm down that was not for the public or the media to be privy to. They put up a big screen TV so you could watch the action and had a scoreboard so you could see the times posted. This was all within 50 meters of the main venue.

Other amenities included

  • A large massage and physical therapy area that was free to the competitors who wanted to use these services.

  • A swimmers lounge complete with easy chairs, large screen TV's, computers, and video games.

  • Hot tubs for those inclined for such things.

  • Sport drinks and water in more than ample amounts for the taking

  • A coaches lounge with similar amenities that the swimmers were given (minus the video games).

  • A large area with mats and other gym equipment for stretching and getting ready to race.

What a wonderful experience it is to be in such an environment and to see some of the best in the world ready themselves for their races or analyze their races with their coaches afterwards. As hard as it is to believe, much of what they talk about is the same things that swimmers of lesser abilities talk about at their own competitions. Michael Phelps is working on his pacing and his turns just like the rest of the swimmers....he just happens to be going quite a bit faster!

For the meet, the swimmers were posting 45% best times for their races overall. This is an outstanding percentage for a meet that is so challenging to qualify for. Four year ago in Long Beach the percentage for the 2004 Olympic Trials was 18%.

Quite an improvement for America's best!

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