"C'mon, Katie, get to it!" shouted Mr. [Lenny] Krayzelburg, standing and pumping his fist as Ms. Hoff bore down on the wall. When she touched it, Mr. Krayzelburg shouted, "Yeah!"..."
But her touch fell seven one-hundredths of a second short of that of the U.K.'s Rebecca Adlington. Underwater replays determined that Ms. Hoff touched the wall with her wrist bent, rather than extended. "That's the difference between winning a gold medal and not winning it," said Mr. Krayzelburg, shaking his head.
"It was hard to know at first if I was first or second," said Ms. Hoff after the race.
Swim races are decided when a finisher touches an electronically sensored wall -- an action that is nearly impossible for observers to see amid furiously splashing water. For fans, that can be akin to watching a night baseball game for eight innings, only to have the lights go dim for the ninth.
Mark Schubert, head coach of the U.S. Olympic swim team, instructs his swimmers to time their final strokes in much the way that long jumpers time their final strides before leaping. Swimmers should spot the wall about five or six strokes away and adjust accordingly, he says.
"The last stroke should be full and strong with the fingers extended," says Mr. Schubert. ..." [Link]