Archive for August 6, 2006

Olympic-sized Swimming Pool

People, I need help here: the meaning of ‘Olympic-sized Swimming Pool’ could have such drastic meaning in different countries: 25m in US and 50m in the rest of the world (almost, I reckon? Full disclosure, I haven’t traveled the world … yet).

I grew up in Beijing and taken to swim in the then-not-so-muddy Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace when I was only 6 moths old. Since then I perfected my breaststroke in the public pools that measured 50 metres, my high school’s included. I also swam at Morrison Hill in Hong Kong, London, Frankfurt, Paris, etc., even in Cairo, which were all 50m!

Then on my fray to the USA, first stop was Honolulu. When I made the reservation I chose a hotel boasting an Olympic-sized pool on its brochure. Little did I know. So when I strided over to do my laps, did I realized it’s so small. Did I go to the wrong pool? No. “This IS the Olympic-sized pool”. The hotel employee who’s passing by told me. Excuse me??? Ok, I shouldn’t argue, after all, it’s a hotel.

Then I wandered into New York and eventually settled down. Now I really needed a pool to quench my thirst. Hmmmmm … few Olympic-sized pools I went to, were all half the size, well 25-yard. I was really dumb founded: why can’t US have the regular pools as the rest of the world do, as poor as China and puny 寸金只土 as Hong Kong??? I am bewildered at the fact that American swimmers are grabbing record amount of medals at each summer Olympics with little (almost none?) imported help (i.e. like in badminton, so to speak).

Granted, there are few pools in NYC that are 50m, but given the size of this country and plentiful of the capital … this is my point and perplexity. Don’t you think that I hadn’t ask. The replies from various coaches were

“I have no idea …” to “Oh, this [short course pool] is cheap to maintain.”

HHhuh? Pardon me! Thinking that in 2003 when I went to Beijing and visited my high school. Guess what? The out door 50m pool was long gone, instead a sparking indoor Olympic-sized pool was built. (Ok, disclosure: my high school ranked 3rd in the country.) What’s more ironic is the adjacent Renmin University (my high school is on the campus of the Uni), only few yards away – has just built its own luxury indoor pool, 50m. Oh well, short course has it advantage: great for practicing flip turns, 🙂

Out of north shore on LI, there are two I used to go. One is built in 1998 for the Goodwill Games, Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park, and the other is at Hofstra Uni where my kids learned to swim: King didn’t … Pumpkin improved. Most time, both pools are being cascaded into short courses to accommodate more teams and swimmers. Ok, getting bit anal: The dimensions of an Olympic pool are required to be 25 metres by 50 metres, stated by FINA.org, (FR 2.1.1). Truthfully, 25m = 82.02 ft, so the American’s short course is less than 25m. No wonder I have such good timing in 500m and 1000m (ok that’s a self-deprecating joke), and it’s legal! Americans are litigious, and yet there is a lawsuit over the pool size. Hmmm..

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