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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 3, 2008 10:21 AM

Solving the mystery of that SI swim photo

Posted by Ron Judd

Sports Illustrated's Beijing preview issue (the one with Michael Phelps on the cover) has a ... well, breathtaking underwater photo inside of Team USA's top swimmers all standing, flatfooted, on the bottom of a pool. (We haven't been able to locate it online; if you have, please post the link.) So few ripples or bubbles are visible that, at first, you might think the picture was not taken underwater at all, if not for the rippling surface high above the swimmer's heads.

But it was, assures Margaret Hoelzer, the backstroke ace from King Aquatic who's one of this region's top medal hopes. Hoelzer, pictured in the photo third from left, between Katie Hoff and Cullen Jones, reports via email from the team's training camp in Singapore that not even Olympic swimmers are so devoid of body fat that they can stand flat-footed on the bottom of a pool without a little assistance.

In this case, that aide came in the form of compact, 5-pound weights, which the swimmers either held in their hands behind their backs, or stuck in the back of their suits.

"Five pounds isn't really heavy, and it it was still hard not to float up," she says.

The swimmers didn't have any breathing aids -- they just held their breaths, which happens to be something swimmers are good at.

"The photographer (Michael O'Neill) had a scuba tank, so he was underwater the whole time, but we would go up and down as a group," Hoelzer says. "We'd all go down together and when one person needed air they'd come up, and then the rest of us would follow."

(If you take a close look at the picture, the one person clearly about to "need air" is Hoff, whose cheeks are pooched out as if she's about ready to burst forth with a huge stream of bubbles.)

Hoelzer and her teammates, including King Aquatic training partner Megan Jendrick and local coach Sean Hutchison, have been roughing it the easy way at the Singapore Country Club, which Hoelzer says is surrounded by forest land filled with monkeys -- some of which have been visible from the club's outdoor pool.

The weather, she says, is preparing them for Beijing.

"It is very humid here and all the West Coast people are dropping like flies when outdoors," Hoelzer says. "I am from Alabama .. and I'm taking great pleasure in watching everybody else swoon!"


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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.