11 August 2008

Should Swimming Be More Like Track, Or the Other Way Around?

Swimming coverage dominates the early half of Olympic coverage, track dominates the latter half. Both have athletes capable of competing in multiple events (a fast 100m sprinter is likely to be pretty fast in the 200m as well, and a great freestyle swimmer might also be pretty good at the breaststroke, too).

Seems kind of ridiculous to have so many kinds of strokes as Olympic events. I can understand having the backstroke and freestyle, the backstroke for its utility, the freestyle as the fastest stroke, but what's up with the breaststroke and the butterfly?

Imagine if we did that with track events. You'd have the 100m freestyle dash, where you can run any way you want, but for added fun, also the 100m backwards dash if only for the hilarious collisions that would be sure to occur (backwards running (pdf at link) is no joke, though, it's a great training technique, as long as you are in a place you can do so safely, backwards running on public streets, not a good idea), then there could be the 100m run-run-skip (for every two normal steps, at least one leap of more than 1.5m must be included), the 100m crab-run, where entrants would have their bodies perpindicular to the direction of motion, and their feet or legs would not be allowed to cross each other at any point, would also be pretty hilarious (and probably painful in the groinal region and murder on the knees if you wanted to generate good speed), and finally a new tandem event for the Olympics, the 100m three legged race, cause Olympic level athletes competing in an event best left for a family reunion or summer camp is never a bad idea.

Tyson Gay could probably clean up at many of those events as long as you time the trials and events far enough apart, if Phelps gets to go for 8 golds, why not Gay?

Or, make swimming more like track, and excise the extraneous strokes, or limit them to the longer distance races and leave the sprints for real world strokes.

Also, apropos of nothing, I still think The Truly Modern Pentathlon would be a kick-ass event.

(imagine the drama of the Georgian team competing against the Russian team in that event)

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