If you are anything like me, you have been glued to your TV watching the Olympics. The excitement of countries competing against one another on the race track, pommel horse, volleyball court, or swimming pool is undeniable. Sometimes it's friendly, sometimes it's not, but no matter what you know you're going to get a good show. One of the best shows, besides the gymnastics (you go girls!), is Michael Phelps, aka the most decorated Olympian of all time.
Michael Phelps swimming the butterfly, his best event. (Photo: AP/Matt Slocum)
Phelps has been a fixture on the scene since 2000, when he was a mere 15 year old child. He later won his first six gold medals at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens and has basically been parked at the top of the winners' podium ever since. This year, he is stronger (and leaner?) than ever, picking up three gold medals thus far, bringing his gold medal total to a whopping 21. Yes. Twenty. One. Gold. Medals. What did you do this week?
An official Olympic swimming block is more complex than it appears. (Photo Courtesy Omega)
You are probably wondering how Omega ties into all this. Omega has been the official time-keeper of the Olympics since 1932, and has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and accuracy. So how exactly did they time the 200m Butterfly that Phelps crushed in 1:53:36?
The diving blocks are loaded with sensors on the back foot-rest, which measure the swimmers' reaction times. There are integrated loudspeakers on each of the blocks that emit the starting signal simultaneously ?that really short "eee" sound you are probably used to by now if what officially signifies the start of the race.ADVERTISEMENT
High-speed camera that takes 100 images per second. (Photo Courtesy Omega)
After the swimmers complete the 100 m, 200 m, or whatever race they are trying to win, they simply have to touch the wall to stop their time, as the pool wall is also loaded with sensors. These sensors respond to a force of just 1.5-2.5 kg, so even a light touch will trigger them. Additionally, there are high-speed cameras (like the one you see in the picture above), that take 100 images per second and send those images to the timekeepers in the control room, just in case a literal photo-finish is necessary.
So there you have it, that is how Omega officially timed Phelps's victory swim last night. Truth be told, Omega's role in the Olympics is pretty incredible and adds an element of depth to the company that not many people know about or really understand. This facet of the brand has little or nothing to do with wristwatches or anything you'll ever see in an Omega boutique ?it's about rigorous, scientific timekeeping at the edge of what we can do technologically. The more you know.
For the official Omega video on timing, click here.Omega Olympics Lange 1 25th Anniversary By A. Lange & Sohne C Hands On