The Indianapolis Colts proved they were football’s best at last weekend’s Super Bowl, the pinnacle extravaganza of every NFL season. Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association decide their own world champions every October and June, respectively. These annual post-season classics feed the insatiable hunger of millions of die-hard sports fans and the question of “Who’s the best?” is conclusively answered.
For avid fans that closely follow the sport of swimming, however, the long wait between Olympic Games can seem agonizingly endless.
Sure, the FINA World Championships next month in Australia will be an exciting and revealing litmus test of how the sport’s best swimmers stack up next to each other a year out from Beijing, but all meets simply pale in comparison to the ultimate showcase of athletic competition, the quadrennial Summer Games. The history, the tradition, the fanfare, and the pressure of representing your country on the world’s biggest stage is like no other.
Maybe the four-year hiatus that Olympic sports fans are forced to endure is what makes the Games that much more dramatic and exciting, but we still suffer nonetheless. Give us the “thrill of victory,” the “agony of defeat,” and the “16 days of glory” that embody the Olympics every year!
Sadly though we are resigned to browse the web instead for the less interesting swimming discussions and debates that fill fan websites and chat rooms for the 1,460 days between Olympics.
Questions like the following remain unanswered for Olympic swimming junkies:
- How many medals will Michael Phelps win in Beijing?
- Will Brendan Hansen win both breaststroke events?
- Will Dara Torres make her 5th Olympic team?
- Can Kate Ziegler break Janet Evans’s 19-year-old world record in the 1500 free?
- Will Aaron Peirsol dominate the backstroke again?
- Is Cullen Jones the next great sprinter?
Big meets held in non-Olympic years like the Pan Pacific Championships, the aforementioned World Championships, and the national championship meets held in this country, only give us partial resolution to burning questions like these. The Olympics is truly the only swimming competition in which heroes and legends are forged.
The good news is that there are only 18 months or 546 days left until the Games of the 29th Olympiad, which will be held in Beijing, China from August 8 – 24, 2008. The swimmers who will represent the United States will be decided a month earlier at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska from June 29-July 6.
In the meantime, however, swimming fans will follow their favorite swimmers at the World Championships on March 25-April 1 in Melbourne, Australia, and wait for the long Olympiad winter to finally end…
By Sam Davis