US Olympic Trials – Different Strokes

By Jim Lutz – Correspondent for and former Head Swimming Coach for the University of Illinois

One of the highlights during the Olympic Swimming Trials is watching the man ride the hydraulic lift to paint the names of each new Olympian on the wall.
The first night gave us two new Olympians in Kaitlin Sandeno and Klete Keller. The TV crew scrambled after the events to interview these young upstarts. As the excitement subsided most eyes turned towards the diving
well as the man began to paint the names on the wall.

He is truly blessed with a talent seen by few. Not only does each name receive 100% focus for correct spelling, this artist paints each name freehand. With the aid of no stencil or ruler, he meticulously adds another Olympic name to the wall.

As my neck began to stiffen from looking up, two thoughts came to mind. First of all, I felt like I was eight years old sitting in the front row of a movie theater cranking my neck to watch the huge screen in front of me.(Thankfully, my shoes weren't getting stuck to gum on the floor.) Secondly, I realized that each athlete whose name appeared on the wall was an artist who used the colors of water to create their own masterpiece.

Just as an artist sees a painting through his or her own eyes, every swimmer see their race and executes the stroke in their own artistic way. Every stroke has very specific rules to ensure consistency. Each individual has a variation that will give him or her the most success.

In the end, all the great swimmers paint wonderful pictures for the world to see using stroke after stroke after stroke.

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