Fri, 15 Aug 2008

Olympic Swimming - A Bit Much?

Variety is the spice of life, as they say, but Olympic swimming is a little overboard.

I guess I'm an olympic "purist". While I appreciate many olympic sports, I don't think the olympics is the right venue for them.

The original motto of the Olympics is "Citius, Altius, Fortius" ("Faster, Stronger, Higher"), so my unconventional opinion is that the olympics ought to consist purely of events that you can set world records in (by the way, these tend to be measures of faster, stronger higher...).

What does that leave in the olympics? Cycling, Rowing, Swimming, Track & Field, Triathlon, and Weightlifting. Everything else, in my wonderfully simplified world, would be cut.

I did admit it was an unconventional opinion, no?

Further, I think each of these remaining sports ought to be distilled down to "faster, stronger, higher", which means they ought to eliminate the butterfly, backstroke and the breaststroke in swimming. They're simply concocted forms that cripple swimmers from swimming faster. (Track and Field could also benefit from killing events like the hurdles, speedwalking, and steeplechase, but at least you don't see stuff like the "100m crabwalk" and the "200m wheelbarrow" or the "400m bearwalk"... And weightlifting would lose the snatch, since all lifters can generally lift more using the clean and jerk-- but if you can do better with a snatch, more power to you.)

Anyway, olympic swimming would be a little less... obese... if it consisted of just 16 events-- 8 for women, 8 for men, six each of individual races of varying length from 50m to 1500m, and 2 each of relays. If you swim one of the other strokes faster than the freestyle, you're welcome to use it. The idea is to get from start to finish as fast as possible, in the water, and again, you ought to be able to do it any way you want, whether that's underwater, dolphin kicking all the way, or doing the doggy paddle.

Some of the events I would evict can either focus on existing annual or quadrannual events which attract the stars as much as or more than the olympics, and those that don't have such events could either create them, if there are enough viewers/fans to sustain it, or go on and sulk back into obscurity (rhythmic gymnastics, I'm talking about you).

Meanwhile, any of the existing sports wanting to change their format to faster/stronger/higher could come back. For example, in Gymnastics, the vault could become a distance event... "Nastia Lukin vaulted 34 feet!" or "Yang Wei held the iron cross for 17 seconds on the rings!" or "Kerry Walsh spiked a ball with the net at 2.25m" would work for me... Go ahead, call me crazy. :)

Name/Blog: Jeff Lechtanski
Title: Olympic Sympathizer
Comment/Excerpt: Following a strict constructionist model, confining the games to only timed events is too stringent. The ancient games included boxing and wrestling. And once you open the gates to competitions where your only goal is to take out the competitor, it is a slippery slope. You end up with beach volleyball.

Name/Blog: Khan
Title: Exactly...
Comment/Excerpt: That's why I didn't bother starting down the slope... I was tempted to keep boxing and wrestling for precisely the reason you stated, but it foiled my plan. Last thing we need is olympic golf, polo, arm wrestling, thumb wrestling (hey, why not?), and kickball.

Khan Klatt

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