Here’s a snapshot of what the Olympic swimming pool looks like. With a roof that hangs down low over the pool, the place gets rock-concert loud at the end of every race.
LONDON -- Two swimmers from North Carolina had a nice Sunday morning here in London, as both Ricky Berens and Nick Thoman advanced out of their preliminary rounds.
With both needing to make the top 16 in their individual events to qualify for tonight’s semifinals, Thoman finished third in the 100 backstroke and Berens was eighth in the 200 freestyle.
“It was good to get that first one out of the way,” Thoman said.
When asked if he was nervous before his first Olympic individual race, Berens said: “It was more than butterflies. I felt like I had a brick in my stomach.”
Berens then came back and swam the third leg on the 4x100 men’s freestyle relay team, which easily qualified for tonight’s final where it will defend its 2008 gold medal.
It is unlikely that Berens will swim that 4x100 event again tonight in the medal round – he admitted as much himself -- but it’s very likely that Cullen Jones will be on that night relay. Jones, who finished second in the 100-meter freestyle at U.S. Olympic Trials and was on the gold-medal relay in Beijing in 2008, was held out of the morning relay.
By virtue of his morning relay swim, however, Berens is guaranteed whatever medal the U.S. wins in the relay tonight. Australia and the U.S. are the two favorites.
Berens and Thoman will both swim again later Sunday trying to make the final, when the field is cut from 16 to eight.
|Germany's Helge Meeuw, left, and Nick Thoman react after a men's 100-meter backstroke swimming heat Sunday.|
A few other notes from London:
-- I have long loved tennis – both playing it and watching it – so Wimbledon was always on the bucket list for me. I’ve been watching it on TV since before that famous Borg-McEnroe tiebreaker, but I had never been to tennis’s most famous facility.
So I did Wimbledon Saturday, on the first day of the Olympic tennis tournament – albeit in a strange way.
Gone were the crisp whites, replaced by players wearing all sorts of colors to represent their homelands. Gone was much of the sedate atmosphere. Still standing were the small signs reading “Centre Court,” but they were usually dwarfed by enormous Olympic signage in the odd mauve/purple/magenta color that Great Britain chose to define these Games.
But it was still Wimbledon. Roger Federer, only 20 days removed from beating Andy Murray in the men’s single final of the Wimbledon tournament, looked graceful as he dispatched his first-round opponent in a tough three-setter.
-- American (and Greensboro native) John Isner – a huge Panther fan who is friends with Steve Smith and regularly follows the team overseas on The Observer’s website -- was a rare dose of good news on a mostly bad day for American tennis players. Isner won his first-round match in straight sets but he and Andy Roddick were quickly eliminated in men’s doubles.