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Records continue to fall in lightning pool

By DENNIS PASSA
Associated Press Writer
September 21, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- When swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg arrived off a 15-hour flight in early September for pre-Olympic training, there was only one place he wanted to be.

An hour after unpacking his bags, the American backstroker who set two world records at the Sydney International Aquatic Center at last August's Pan Pacific championships was back in the Olympic pool.

``I just jumped in and felt like new again,'' he said. ``There's something magical about it.''

And fast. Twelve world records have been set or equaled after six days of the Olympic swim program, including five on the opening night, adding to the 12 world marks that were set at the PanPacs.

At the Australian trials in the same pool in May, Susie O'Neill broke four world records in three days, Ian Thorpe three in three days.

While the skintight bodysuits have been credited with improving times at the Sydney Games -- where Krayzelburg completed the 100-200 gold double with a win in the 200 meters on Thursday -- the world records at the PanPacs were set before most of the top swimmers were wearing the new suits.

Krayzelburg's time of 1 minute, 58.40 seconds Wednesday in qualifying for the 200 broke an eight-year Olympic record of 1:58.40 held by Spain's Martin Lopez-Zubero. He bettered the Olympic record in Thursday's final with a time of 1:56.76.

Also Wednesday, Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands broke her own world record in the 100-meter freestyle to add to her 100 butterfly mark she set Sunday.

What helps make the pool quicker than most is the newest technology -- anti-wave lane ropes, extra lanes, a level wet-deck and water depth of 10 feet that reduces turbulence.

Angled starting blocks with handle bars, ozone-treated water, temperature controls of the air and water, vibrant colors around the pool and energetic music all play a part.

Lane ropes used to be strings of decorated wire but now they are thick plastic devices that prevent water spilling from one lane into the next. Starting blocks, once flat, are angled slightly to hasten takeoffs.

The wet deck is at water level, allowing waves to wash over the side and through drains instead of rebounding across the pool. There are 10 lanes, and although the outside two are not used, the extra lanes allow side waves to dissipate.

Ozone treatment of the water helps visibility and reduces the taste, smell and eye soreness that comes from chlorine. Colors around the pool -- the end of each lane is bright yellow -- can also help.

Swimmers also warm up to music -- Santana's ``Smooth,'' Shania Twain's ``I Feel Like A Woman,'' INXS's ``New Sensation'' and Smashmouth's ``All-Star'' are among the Olympic pool-deck selections.

Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands, who has set two world records in Sydney, isn't convinced any of that makes any difference: ``The pool is nice, but the swimmers are all great, too.''

But American Tom Malchow, who set an Olympic record while winning gold in the 200 butterfly, says the pool has spurred on the competitors.

``The way everything's going, it looks like you have to come close to a world record in every race to win it,'' he said.

Article originally located at Yahoo! News

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