India Today @ Olympics: No margin for error in the pool

first_imgFrom start to finish, the Olympics are all about precision. Even though London may be chaotic in terms of transportation, efforts being made in the field of play are truly fantastic.On Wednesday, a select media group was taken to the Olympic swimming pool, where the rivalry between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte will be on full view. And for the official time-keepers for the Games, it will be all about getting their act together for the thrilling action in the aquatics complex.Compared to The Cube, as the swimming pool in Beijing was called, the facility in London does not look that impressive. However, as far as timing goes, a couple of improvements have been made, such as the battery of timing equipment that has been put in place.Even though nobody is allowed inside the timing area during the Games, on Wednesday, the media had a sneak preview. Computers were lined up one after the other to ensure precision and accuracy. An option is also available to watch replays, which especially help in relay events.One of the officials, Pascal Rossier, spoke at length about how the ‘quantum device’ was being used for the first time in an Olympics. “We did try it out in World Cups and world championship, but this is the first time at the Olympics that we have precision timers which can catch action upto 1/1000th of a second,” he said.With swimmers from several countries training in the pool for more than a week now, the time-keepers have been testing their timing equipment virtually non-stop. “We have a two-timing system and a backup,” Rossier said.There is also a new way by which viewers can keep track of the winners. Right above the starting blocks, illuminating lights have been fixed. Depending on who is leading the race, a light flashes. If there are two lights flashing, then it means that the swimmers is second and if three lights are flashing it means he is third.”From the stands, even if you are not a hard core swimming fan, with this system in place you can keep track of the winner,” said Peter Huertzeler, also involved with time-keeping.Huertzeler, a close friend of Michael Phelps, reeled off several interesting details about how the timing works in the pool. He spoke in detail about the touch pads in place and how a swimmer had to touch it at least with a 1.5kg pressure. He also explained details about equipment that catches the reaction time for swimmers when they take part in relays.Huertzeler was in the United States for the Olympic trials and said he had “a strong feeling this time Michael Phelps versus Ryan Lochte will be interesting”.”I would always tell Michael that he should never turn to look at the timing on the electronic scoreboard before finishing the race and hitting the touch pad. This is not like athletics where you cross the finish line. In swimming, the touch pad has to be struck so that judges and we come to know which swimmer has finished first,” he said.Huertzeler was asked by a local journalist if the touch pad ever malfunctioned during an Olympic race. Huertzeler was flummoxed and then recalled the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where in between two races there was a glitch and the touch pad had to be replaced.Right now, with the Olympic pool throbbing with action, every minute is being caught on camera. In a sport where nano-seconds make a difference and even 4/100th of a second is important, there is no scope for error.At least, that’s what the official time-keepers are saying.advertisementlast_img read more