Women’s water polo was one of the new events at the 2000 Sydney Games.
When one plays water polo, the players are prohibited from touching the bottom or
side of the pool. There are four
seven-minute quarters, and water polo players may swim up to five kilometers in
a single game. One must have the
endurance and technique of a wonderful swimmer, a football player’s skill in
passing, dribbling and shooting for a goal, and a rugby player’s strength to
battle for the ball. Water polo started as the aquatic version of rugby.
It began in the mid-1800s in England, before it started evolving into an
aquatic resemblance of football (soccer). It
had become so popular in Europe and North America, that it became an Olympic
sport in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris. Tall
and long-armed athletes excel in this sport because 85 percent of the body is
under water. The body is also about
85 percent submerged with all of the grabbing, holding, kicking, wrestling, and
yanking of bathing suits, which makes the game even tougher.
Only eight teams qualify in the women’s division, while twelve teams
compete in the men’s division at the Olympic Games. There are only two events - the Men’s Water Polo
and Women’s Water Polo. In
the men’s event, the top twelve teams are divided into two pools of six for a
round-robin preliminary heat. The
top four teams form each pool and advance to the semi-finals.
then go on to the medal rounds. In
the women’s events, they also play a round-robin preliminary heat, with the
top four teams going to the semi-finals. This
is a very tough sport to compete in, but the fans really get into the matches.
Diving was entered into the Olympic Games almost a century ago. It was still as we know it, because it hasn’t changed a bit since it was entered in the 1924 Olympics. In the 2000 Sydney Games, synchronized diving, or diving in pairs, was introduced. Diving was developed in 17th century Europe, when some gymnasts practiced their acrobatics over water. Diving must combine artistry and athleticism with much courage, because platform divers hit the water at 55 kilometers per hour. It is one of the Olympic Games’ most thrilling events. In 1988, Greg Louganis of the United States, who may be the best Olympic diver ever, cracked his head on the springboard while trying to perform the reverse 2.5 pike. After he received stitches, Greg won the gold in both of the men’s events. For competition, the competitors perform a series of dives, and they are awarded points up to 10, which depends on their elegance and skill.
Then the points are changed according to the difficulty degree, which is based
on the number of types and maneuvers attempted, such as somersaults, pikes,
tucks, and twists. One of the most
difficult moves is a reverse 1.5 somersault with 4.5 twists.
There is a panel of seven judges that traditionally scores a dive, judging
the elements such as approach, take-off, execution and entry into the water.
There are nine judges that judge synchronized diving.
There are eight diving events. There
are four platform events, and three springboard events.
The springboard is three meters above the water.
It is very flexible. The
competitors can spring high into the air. The
platform board is ten meters above the water.
It is often called the high board. When
the divers hit the water, they can reach speeds up to 34 mph.
The events are listed as follows:
• 10m platform men
• 10m platform women
• 3m springboard women
• 3m springboard men
• Synchronized diving 10m platform men
• Synchronized diving 10m platform women
• Synchronized diving 3m springboard women
• Synchronized diving 3m springboard men
Synchronized swimming has been called many names since it began in 1890
in Berlin, Germany. Some of its
names have been artistic swimming, ornamental swimming, scientific swimming,
figure swimming, pattern swimming, and water ballet.
Though the first competition was for men, only women now compete in the
Kellerman of Australia first attracted audiences to the sport when she performed
in a glass tank full of water in New York City, U.S.
swimming made its international debut in the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago,
U.S., where Katherine Curtis, a former gymnast
and diver, trained 60 swimmers, called the “Modern Mermaids,” to do a dance
underwater. Since the swimmers swam
together in synch with each other, it was called synchronized swimming.
1940s and 50s, Esther Williams performed “aqua musicals,” or movies that
were synchronized swimming, including one about Kellerman.
swimming has essential components to make the performances easier and more
beautiful. Gelatin is put in the
competitors’ hair to retain its style in the water, and waterproof makeup is
used. A nose clip is probably the
most important device for synchronized swimmers because it keeps the water out of their
nose. There are speakers about one
meter underwater for swimmers to hear the music and move with each other, since
competitors learn their synchronized techniques based on the music.
Synchronized swimming became a demonstration sport in 1948
and continued as one until 1968. It became a medal sport in the 1984
Los Angeles Games. There
were two events: the solo and duet. In
the 1996 Games,
the solo and duet events were replaced by the team event.
However, high interest in the sport caused the IOC
to reinstate the duet event for the 2000
events there is a technical routine and a free routine.
First, swimmers perform a free routine, where there is no restriction on
music, choreography, or what elements or moves, must be performed.
Next, there is a technical routine, where competitors must perform a set
of moves in a certain order. They
may pick their own music and add extra choreography.
of 10 judges award points in technical merit and artistic impression from 1 to
10 in tenth point increases. Technical
merit consists of execution, the perfection of strokes, figures, patterns,
transition, and propulsion techniques, synchronization, how well teammates match
each other and move with the music, and difficulty, the height the movements are
above water, the intricacy of the movements, the strength needed to complete them,
how complex the synchronization is, and how much time the movements require.
Artistic impression is judged on choreography, the diversity and
originality of the movements, flexibility, patterns and pool usage, music
interpretation, the use of movements to interpret the music’s rhythm and
dynamics, and manner of presentation, the ability of the swimmers to make their
performance appear effortless, and how the swimmers communicate a message through the choreography,
and the presentation’s poise.
is determined by canceling the highest and lowest scores in each category and
averaging the enduring scores. The
technical merit score is multiplied by 6 and the artistic impression is
multiplied by 4. The two numbers are added together to make the final score.
The free routine makes up 65% of the final score and the technical
routine makes up 35%.
free routine and the technical routine, the best scoring competitors advance to
the finals, where they perform a final free routine.
Then the preliminary free routine’s score is canceled and the scoring
process begins again to determine the medallists, still using the technical
Swimming became an Olympic sport in 1896. Women first competed in 1912. During the 1896 Games, 100m freestyle swimmers were left in the icy Bay of Zea in the Mediterranean Sea and the first one to reach shore won. Alfred Hajos of Hungary, the winner, said, “My will to live overcame my desire to win.”
Over the years, many odd swimming events have been held. In 1900, there were obstacle course races and underwater races. In the 1908 London Games, there was an event called the “plunge for distance,” where competitors dove into the water and stayed motionless for 60 seconds or until they surfaced.
Swimming has advanced greatly since then. Today, races are held in a standard 50m pool. The water is 1.8 meters deep. each swimmer’s lane, which they must stay inside of, is eight meters wide. To aid in this, floating dividers are placed, which also minimize waves. Water temperature is between 25 and 27 degrees Celsius, slightly cooler than most public swimming pools. Times are recorded at the end of each lap by a pressure pad that clocks time to one-hundredth seconds.
Swimmers wear bathing caps because even short hair creates water resistance, slowing the swimmer down. Swimsuits are made of light, stretchable material, including, Teflon, also used to make nonstick frying pans. Goggles are also worn to protect swimmer’s eyes from chemicals in the water.
There are five categories of swimming. Freestyle allows swimmers to use any stroke, but the front crawl is always used because it’s the fastest stroke. However, the 1904 gold medallist in the 1 mile event, Emil Rausch of Germany used the sidestroke, a version of breaststroke. The front crawl involves moving the arms in a pinwheel motion on the sides of the face, while the legs kick up and down quickly, up to six kicks per arm stroke. Breathing is done after every few strokes by turning the head to the side. A “tumble turn,” where swimmers do a half somersault just before they reach the wall and push off with their legs, is used between laps. The freestyle races are the men’s and women’s 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m relay, and 4x200m relay, the men’s 1500m, and the women’s 800m. 50m freestylists can swim at speed up to 8 km/h.
The world record for the men’s 50m is 21.64 set by Alexander Popov of Russia on June 16, 2000 in Moscow, Russia. The 100 meter record is 47.84 by Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands on September 19, 2000 at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. For the 200m, it is 1:44.06 by Ian Thorpe of Australia on July 25, 2001 at Fukouka, Japan. The 400m record is 3:40.17, also by Thorpe, set on July 24, 2001 at Fukouka, Japan. The 1500m world record is by Grant Hakkett on July 29, 2001 at Fukouka, Japan, a time of 14:34.56. The 4x100m relay record is 3:13.67 set by the Australian team of Michael Klim, Chris Fydler, Ashley Callus, and Ian Thorpe on September 16, 2000 at the Sydney Games. The 4x200m relay, also set by an Australian team of Grant Hackett, Michael Klim, William Kirly, and Ian Thorpe, is 7:04.66 on July 27, 2001 at Fukouka, Japan.
The women’s world record in the 50m is 0:24.13 by Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands on September 22, 2000 during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The 100m record is laso by de Bruijn during the 2000 Olympics, a time of 53.77 on September 20. Franzieska Van Almsick of Germany holds the 200m record with 1:56.78 on September 6, 1994 in Rome, Italy. Janet Evans of the U.S. holds the records for 400m and 800m with times of 4:03.85 set on September 22, 1988 during the Seoul Games, and 8:16.22 set on August 20, 1989 at Tokyo, Japan. The 4x100m relay record is 3:36.61 set by the U.S. team of Amy van Dyken, Dara Torres, Courtney Shealy, and Jenny Thompson on September 16, 2000 during the Sydney Games. The 4x200m relay record is 7:55.47 set by Manuela Stellnach, Astrid Strauss, Anke Mohring, and Heike Friedrich of East Germany, now Germany on August 18, 1987 at Strasbourg, France.
Breaststroke requires swimmers to start a stroke with their hands parallel to each other and to the water. The arms break to the left and right until they curve inward at the shoulder and shoot outward, beginning another stroke. The legs to the same motion. The breaststroke events are the men’s and women’s 100m and 200m. Breaststroke swimmers must touch the wall with both hands after every lap, or they are disqualified. Breaststroke competitors must break the surface on every stroke except the first, since they can swim faster underwater.
Even so, breaststroke is the slowest stroke, with top speeds of only 6 km/h, about a third of how fast a human can run. If the 100m freestyle champion raced the 100m breaststroke champion, the freestyle racer would win by more than 10 seconds!
The men’s world record in the 100m is by Roman Sloudnov of Russia with 59.94 set on July 23, 2001 at Fukouka, Japan. The 200m record is 2:10.16 by Mike Barrowman on July 29, 1992 during the Barcelona Games.
The women’s world record in the 100m is 1:06.52 set by Penelope Heyns of South Africa on August 23, 1999 at Canberra, Australia. The 200m world record is 2:22.99 by Hui Qi of China on April 13, 2001 at Hangszhou, China.
Backstroke, also called the back crawl, is similar to the front crawl. Swimmers move their arms in a backward pinwheel motion, the opposite direction of the front crawl, and the legs are the same as in the front crawl. Since all strokes must be done on the back, a row of flags is hung across the pool five meters from the edge to tell competitors they are nearing the wall. The backstroke events are the men’s and women’s 100m and 200m.
Both men’s world records are by Lenny Krayzelburg of the U.S. with times of 53.5 on August 24, 1999 at Sydney, Australia, and 1:55.87 on August 27, 1999 at Sydney.
The women’s world record in the 100m is 1:00.16 by Cihong He of China set on September 10, 1994 in Rome, Italy. The 200m record is 2:06.62 by Kristina Egerszegi of Hungary on August 25, 1991 at Athens, Greece.
Butterfly involves swinging the arms, which are directly outward from the body, through the air, and then pulling them down through the water to the starting place of the stroke. Both swimmers use the dolphin kick, where the legs move as one waving through the water, but some use the breaststroke kick. The butterfly events are the men’s and women’s 100m and 200m.
The 100m men’s world record is by Michael Klim of Australia, a time of 51.81 set on December 12, 1999 at Canberra, Australia. The 200m record is 1:54.58 by Michael Phelps of the U.S. on July 24, 2001 at Fukouka, Japan.
The 100m women’s world record is 56.61 by Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands on September 17, 2000 during the Sydney Games. The 200m record is 2:05.81 by Susan O’Neill of Australia on May 17, 2000 at Sydney, Australia.
Medley, the fifth category involves doing all strokes on consecutive laps. The order of strokes is butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and then freestyle. The narrowest victory in Olympic history was in the 1972 men’s 4x400m relay, Gunnar Larsson of Sweden edged out Tim McKee by .002 second, three mm. Today, the rules have changed so that if two swimmers have the same time to the hundredth second, they are both given that place. The medley events are the men’s and women’s 200m, 400m, and 4x100m relay.
The men’s world record in the 200m is 1:58.16 set by Jani Sievinan of Finland set on September 11, 1994 at Rome, Italy. The 400m record is 4:11.76 by Tom Dolan of the U.S. on September 17, 2000 during the Sydney Olympics. The 4x100m record is 3:33.73 set by the American team of Lenny Krayzelburg, Ed Moses, Ian Crocker, and Gary Hall, Jr. on September 23, 2000 during the Sydney Games.
The woman’s 200m record is 2:09.72 by Yanyan Wu of China set on October 17, 1997 at Shangai, China. The 400m record is 4:33.59 by Yana Klochkova of Ukraine on September 16, 2000 at the Sydney Games. The 4x100m record is 3:58.3 set by the U.S. team of B.J. Bedford, Megan Quann, Jenny Thompson, and Dara Torres on September 23, 200 at the Sydney Olympics.
Swimmers in all events except backstroke dive into the water from a starting block. An ideal dive is shallow and long. Since breaststroke swimmers can swim the first stroke underwater, they often dive deeper than other racers.
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