As you no doubt have heard and internalized, the International Olympic Committee signed off this week on a proposal to add a new swimming event to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. There will be the first-ever-in-the-Olympics mixed gender relay.
Details so far are sketchy. Last time I checked, the IOC had not spelled out which strokes the men and women will swim or if they will mix things up depending on political and sociological factors. Nor it is crystal in my mind who the United States is now strategizing to put on that team.
Building on this new event trend, I hereby submit the following additional relay proposals to the IOC. It’s early — three years before the Games — but now is the time. As you know, in swimming timing is everything.
Here are the proposals:
The Busch Gardens Relay
If you’ve ever been to the Busch Gardens Water Park in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, you no doubt remember the automatically engineered waves that ripple over the swimmers every five minutes. What’s unsettling is you’re never quite sure when the next big swell is going to erupt like the Loch Ness Monster.
The Busch Gardens Relay will feature those same artificially created pool waves. The waves will be 10 feet high and 50 feet wide and break every 10 seconds. Why so frequent? The relay will be four swimmers from each team doing the 200 meter butterfly.
Because there will be no way any swimmer will be able to avoid all the waves; the fastest swimmers in the world take at least 19 seconds to finish an Olympic race.
To participants, the race will feel like all waves all the time. As they pull their heads out of the water to breathe, they may, depending on their timing, be swallowed by the 10-foot breakers. It will be tough for swimmers to time their times to come up for air for when the waves aren’t breaking.
The Jet Ski Relay
If you have ever watched the New York City Marathon, you know that throughout the 26.2 mile journey a motorcycle driver rides along close to the lead runner. This same scenario would play out in the men’s 4 x 800 meter medley relay.
Picture Michael Phelps in Lane 4 diving into the pool for the butterfly leg. In Lane 1 there would be a jet ski painted red, white and blue and white stars. Envision the American flag. Only seven countries would be allowed to participate because the one lane would have to be set aside for the machine.
The ski would stay at the same speed as Phelps for the first lap. At the turn, however, things would start to turn. Phelps would do his famous underwater whale/dolphin/shark — the one we have seen him do the past four Olympic Games that catapulted him to more than 20 gold medals.
The jet ski couldn’t do a flip turn because it’s a boat. A boat can’t go underwater, do a flip, kick off the wall, and come out 30 feet from the wall and raise its head.
The ski would have to be navigated in a narrow lane. The ski driver would have to touch the wall; you always have to touch the wall in swimming or the lap won’t count. And after that the boat would have to be turned around. Because jet skis are almost as wide as a swimming lane, Phelps will take a three-body-length lead.
To catch him the jet ski driver would have to rev the accelerator and that would spew liquid gas into the pool. Eventually the ski would catch Phelps near the end of the second lap. But the same problem would have to be addressed at the next wall. Live repeats itself often. Phelps would do his Zeus underwater turn while the jet ski would have to be twisted around and face the other direction again.
The jet ski relay will be a gas, gas, gas.
The Underwater Charlie Brown Event
There are devices that enable swimmers to listen to music as they swim with their heads plunged under water. This race will take this underwater fetish to a deeper level.
Four broadcasters will be stationed on the bottom of the pool, one in each corner. For each race all four will have to make at least one comment. Imagine Katie Ledecky swimming the anchor leg of the women’s 4 by 100 freestyle relay. The broadcasters will take turns, in a disciplined sequence, saying something about the race.
They will speak into microphones that are impervious to, and immune from, and disassociated with, water. Most of the time the TV viewers will hear something that sounds like the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher: wa wa wa wa wa wa wa waaaaa waaaaaaaaaa wa. It will be garbled gabbing. You might think you hear one of them saying something like “Katie Ledecky is swimming fast.” But that will be your imagination.
Charlie Brown’s teacher never spoke words that were decipherable.
— Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface is possibly America’s best blogger. He is only mildly interested in the truth. To read his new book, Wipe That Smile Off Sammy Sportface, go to Amazon.com.