The swimming has been wonderful, exciting and surprising − East versus West, new generation versus old. A 15-year-old Lithuanian winner who speaks English like a native English girl (not that that has anything to do with her swimming); a 16-year-old Chinese girl who swims faster than the fastest male American; a giant of a Frenchman who proves emphatically that the French can outdo the Americans; and a rather lumbering Phelps, who seems now like the old man of the pool.
And, yes, I’m going to say it – the male swimmers’ bodies, perfect, sculpted. There may be other athletes with bodies as fine, but we don’t get to see so much of them exposed. As for the women, they come in all sizes, some big, bulky and powerful, others small, slight and speedy. I love their bathing suits, so sleek fitting. Rather fancying myself in one, I checked the Speedo site. Of course, I was expecting it – relative to what we pay for a regular, everyday bathing suit, the prices are astronomical. But even the tiniest, poorest countries like Guinea, whose swimmers compete in the slowest heats fork out the money for them so that their athletes look the part.
I even examine the caps and goggles. I note that many swimmers place the caps over the goggles, or wear two caps, with the goggles in-between. Every detail is carefully worked out so that there are no slip-ups. Could one of them please explain to me how they can dive into the water and manage to keep their goggles leak-free?
When they emerge from the wings, some of the swimmers, such as the Americans wear strange long coats, or in the Chinese case, heavy padded jackets. Maybe that is the secret of why the Chinese do so well in swimming? But, then, they do so well in everything else, too.
As for me, I don’t think I’m going to make the Olympics in four years time in Sao Paolo, even if I buy one of those desirable racing suits and my goggles don’t leak. Maybe I’ll try for the geriatric Olympics – if they exist.