Welcome to a new feature we’re calling “Favorite Olympic Moments,” where we reminisce about some of the moments that make the Olympics so exciting and so much fun to watch. These are the moments where athletes faced the pressure of the world stage and defined the Olympic spirit.
Los Angeles 1984.
During the LA games, I was pretty into swimming. I was a decent age-group swimmer, specializing in breaststroke (and later–oddly enough, since I wasn’t great at butterfly–Individual Medley). I also was a solid breaststroke leg on a medley relay. I’d spent a couple of summers going to week-long swim camps–one run by the legendary Doc Counsilman from Indiana University–which improved my swimming a lot (I actually still swim some of the drills I learned there when I swim my own workouts), and solidified my excitement about the sport.
The LA Games happened in the middle of my swimming “career,” so to speak, and it was the first Games that got me hooked on the Olympics. Swimming events are early on in the Games, so I was glued to the TV early and often. For me, the women’s 100-meter freestyle really set the tone for an amazing Games. Take a watch:
IT WAS A TIE! HOLY COW!
According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, author of The Complete Book of the Olympics, the only other time a tie had occurred in swimming was in 1972 during the Men’s 400 Individual Medley. In that race, the officials said that there couldn’t be a tie, so they expanded the time capture to the thousandth (swimming times usually go to the hundredth of a second; not many sports will time to the thousandth. Luge does, but not many others do).
Anyway, Wallechinsky goes on to say that after that tie, it was decided that it was a little too risky to rely on technical equipment to time that finely, so when it happened again in 1984, they just awarded two gold medals.
And when that happened, this little girl who was curled into a corner in front of the television set went nuts. It was jaw-dropping. It was beautiful. It was Olympic.
If you have a favorite Olympic moment, let us know! We’d love to feature it in a future post.