Storm Arrives Before The Ohama Action
Jun 28, 2008
Craig Lord

US Swimmers were ordered out of the water at the Olympic trials pool on Friday when a severe storm struck the building. All is well today and a calm has descended before the second storm

Well, SwimNews did give warning of storms to come: practice resumed today at the pool in Omaha that will host the US Olympic trials after swimmers were ordered out of the water on Friday when a severe storm struck the building. According to agency reports, 'chunks of the building were ripped off and water poured down the steps at one end of the seating area, flooding the floor around the competition pool'.

Michael Phelps was among the hundreds of swimmers asked to leave the water and head for shelter in the interior hallways. Repairs were carried out through the night, though there was no major structural damage.

Swimmers spoke to Beth harris at AP. 'Really ominous, that's for sure,' said two-time Olympian Erik Vendt, who, along with Phelps, was walking from their hotel to the arena when tornado sirens sounded. 'When we came into the 2000 trials in Indianapolis, the same type thing happened,' Vendt recalled. 'Just a crazy thunderstorm that shook the hotel. Maybe that's a good sign. USA Swimming puts us in tornado alley during tornado season.'

All eyes will be on Phelps when trials start Sunday for eight days, though there is plenty of other action to watch for. Katie Hoff, chasing seven events, and Natalie Coughlin lead the way among women, with Dara Torres, 41 and on her second comeback 24 years after making her first Olympic team, aiming to make at least the 4x100m freestyle that gave her a first gold medal back in Los Angeles 1984. Gary Hall jr is not quite as old but at 33 he is vying for a fourth Olympic Games and a stab at joining an Olympic triple club with just two members so far: Dawn Fraser (AUS, 100m free, 1956-64) and Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN, 200m back, 1988-96). Amanda Beard is one of only two swimmers, with Soviet star Galina Prozumenshikova (1964-72) to stand on a breaststroke podium at three Games. Can the potential defending 200m champion make it back again as the dam builds behind the fortress of Leisel Jones (AUS)?

Ryan Lochte is one of the danger men for Phelps and is entered in 11 races, two more than Superfish, who remains ahead of Lochte in the versatility rankings - so far. Lochte stole Aaron Peirsol's world title and world record in the 200m backstroke at Melbourne 2007. Will Phelps now be the one to cause upset or will the 200 back be one of the ones he drops?

'There are some swimmers who, when they swim against Michael, they're swimming to get second just because they don't feel they can beat him,' Lochte said. 'For me, it's the total opposite. I feel like I can beat him.'

As hot a topic as the swimmers are their suits. Nike is allowing the charges it backs to wear what suits they like in recognition of the unquestionable impact of the LZR Racer from Speedo that left other makers having to fight to catch up. Only in Beijing will we know if they have or not.

Nike-backed Brendan Hansen lost his 200m breaststroke world record to an LZR-clad Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) a couple of weeks back when the double Olympic champion proved the case for the Speedo suit and made his federation bow to the inevitable choice of giving their swimmers the best chance in China. Hansen has been wearing the whole range of bodysuits in practice and told Harris: 'It will be a game-day decision. I'm going to decide the day of and go with my gut about which suit will perform the best.'

Hansen will play a big part is his performance too, but good to see that there is no denial that modern suits aid performance. We all now know that they do. The clock in Omaha, just like that in Melbourne in March and in Sheffield and Manchester in April, will provide more data for the suits laboratory, as if any were needed.