I’m still hoping to see a swimming final in the Beijing 2008 Olympics where a world record is not broken. World record are not broken by a millisecond or so which is usually the case but in some cases by as much as four seconds. In one race, the top five swimmers (4×100 relay) broke the previous world record. Can you imagine claiming to have broken the world record and going home without a medal? These world records are not just broken by that all-mighty Phelps but almost everyone who wins a gold. It is almost Bob Beamon-esque in high-altitude Mexico City and I suspect there is talk among swimmers that if you can’t break the world record here then you probably cannot break it anywhere else. At times, it gets a tad boring because we hold up world records to be the ultimate epitome of achievement but when almost everyone seems to shatter them more than a dozen times a day, you lose the charm. And if you have heard someone say, there is something in the water, they aren’t completely off the mark.
The swimming pool housed in the Water Cube at these Beijing Olympics is no mere pond of water. It is a state-of-the-art aquatic marvel aimed at increasing speed purported to have cost nearly $200 million. The depth has been increased to 3 meters compared to the traditional 2 meters so that there is less turbulence and thus less resistance to the swimmers. The two lanes at the edges are kept empty to act as buffers that keeps the waves from bouncing back to the pool and instead diverting them to the gutter that is flush with the surface of the water. The plastic lane-dividers are designed to push water downward instead of outward so that it creates less waves in the path of the swimmers. Additionally, the non-skid starting blocks add an extra bounce to the initial takeoff that can help give swimmers additional assistance in trimming those valuable seconds [source].
Finally, the ultra-sleek swimsuits that not only lessen resistance to the already-streamlined bodies of the swimmers but also seemingly adds buoyancy in the water. Speedo’s LZR Racer full-body suit is the latest craze among swimmers and having been worn during smashing more than four dozen world records only makes it more popular. These suits can take around half an hour to put on and literally squeezes the body into a more streamlined shape. Of course, not to mention that in the words of Kristy Coventry merely wearing these suits helps swimmers in thinking that they can go fast. Talk about a placebo effect!
And in spite of all these technological marvels, water still gets in Phelps’ goggles literally blinding him on his homestretch. that doesn’t stop him from breaking yet another world record though.