In a complete waste of digital “ink,” Slate runs an incomprehensible article by William Saletan on Michael Phelps’ 100m fly medal. Saletan, who obviously never swam competitively, argues that Milorad Cavic may have beat Phelps because, well to paraphrase Saletan, “it seems so awfully close.”
… In the pictures, Cavic appears to have arrived by the second frame, if not the first—at a minimum, tying Phelps. (See for yourself.) And Phelps is moving so much faster and more forcefully that you have to wonder: Given the delay between contact and pressure, if the touch pad recorded Phelps’ pressure only one-hundredth of a second before Cavic’s, how likely is it that Cavic made initial contact before Phelps did?
Give me a break. Sure, they are called touch pads, but as any experienced swimmer will tell you, you have to do more than faintly caress the pad lest the force of the water taps you in. As is clear in the underwater imagery, Cavic not only glided into the wall, he, fatally, lifted his head. Lucky for Phelps, Cavic incredibly lost the race by inexperience. Mike’s half-stroke and don’t finish until it’s finish effort wouldn’t have been enough if Cavic finished at the wall, and the pad, and not before.
There is no gray area. Phelps touched out Cavic in the way it matters: pressure on the pad. Next time, Cavic won’t pull up short.
Update: Saletan finally sees the photos I linked to ten days ago but still can’t accept the finality of the subject.