While everybody is going crazy over how hot Chinese Olympic swimmer Ning ZeTao is (and Fu YuanHui’s cute reactions), lots of previous records are being broken from under our noses. Over nine records have fallen (some even twice over!), and the Games are only halfway through!
There is such a thing as a “fast pool” in swimming competitions. An easy way to tell is to see if the pool is more than three meters deep. The depth creates a buffer that dampens any waves made by the swimmer. There are many other features one may design, such as better lane dividers, wall gutters, or buffer lanes. The goal is to dampen as much unwanted movement as possible or prevent it from ricocheting back to the swimmer.
In fact, back in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the pool was acclaimed for its outstanding speed. 29 records were set that August in China. Four years later in London, only 19 new times were made. Not only so, the winning times were slower than those in Beijing. The gold medal times registered in the Rio Olympics still haven’t beat some of those from 2008, and with 16 events left, won’t have a chance to break 29 records like then in Beijing (but may tie with London 2012).
There are always other was for professional athletes to improve performance. Having better equipment, sportswear, or even coaching methods can help an athlete in addition to having good skill. Full-body swimsuits were banned from the Olympics for concern of them being unreasonably advantageous in races.
There are psychological factors too. If the environment of the pool is really good, it may just help races squeeze that much more speed out. Look at the concentration on Michael Phelp’s face!
Although record-breaking scores are good business for professional sports and companies try their best to sell how their equipment is best, but sometimes these things really just boil down to pure skill, talent, stamina, and luck.
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