Work in Sports
Swimmers made history at Sydney
By Desmond M. Wallace, CNNSI.com
Clad mostly in shark-skin suits, swimmers at the 2000 Olympic Games seemed to part the waters at the Sydney Aquatic Center like the Red Sea.
World records fell in no less than 13 swimming events. Olympic records were established in 27 of the 33 races, making these the most historic Games since 1972.
Who can forget Mark Spitz's world records in all seven of his events at the '72 Munich Games? That remains the single-most impressive haul by any single athlete in any sport. That year, Spitz swam the 100- and 200-meter freestyles, the 100- and 200-meter butterflies, and three relay events.
But the Sydney Games produced their own stars.
Between them, the Netherlands' Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn accounted for five of the eight individual world records established at the 2000 Olympics. In winning the men's 100- and 200-meter freestyles, van den Hoogenband not only became the first man to win both events at the same Olympics since Spitz 28 years ago, but he also set world records in each.
For her part, de Bruijn was the class of the women's field at the Games. It was debatable which was most impressive: her world-best 56.61 in the 100-meter butterfly or her amazing margin of victory. In fact, de Bruijn’s winning margin of 1.36 seconds was the most dominant in women’s Olympic swimming in any 100-meter butterfly, backstroke or freestyle event since 1976.
All told, de Bruijn copped a total of three golds in individual events and one silver in the 4 x 100-meter relay.
American 200-meter butterflier Misty Hyman, Australian 400-meter freestyler Ian Thorpe, and American 100- and 200-meter backstroker Lenny Krayzelburg were also among those establishing Olympic records this year. Incredibly, all six gold-medal-winning relay teams at these games set new Olympic highs, including five U.S. foursomes.
Olympic records in more than four of every five swimming events? In a word, the performances at the Sydney Games were simply splashing.