Swimming : Pool secrets are safe with Omega man

Wed Aug 3, 2016 3:45pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Hans Gubler is the man who knows the answers but will never tell, the keeper of secrets as well as time at Rio's Olympic aquatics center.

Gubler is the Omega man, overseeing a 'nerve-centre' of timing systems as a privileged insider with access to the sort of sensitive data that many would like to see but that will never be divulged.

At the 2000 Games in Sydney, U.S. team mates Anthony Ervin and Gary Hall Jr shared the 50 meters freestyle gold with a time of 21.98 seconds -- meaning there was not even a fingertip between them officially.

There have been other ties in the history of swimming, which is timed to 1/100th of a second, but Swiss timers Omega will always know who was in front because they time to 1/10,000th.

There is even the computing potential to deliver timings to the millionth.

''Of course we can see the facts,'' Gubler told Reuters pool side on a tour of the timing facility. ''When it comes to a tie, obviously we have proof for it. And then it's up to the federation for the last judgment.''

The world body FINA will also be in the know, but the information is not released. Apart from anything, such fine timings have to take into account the construction of the pool and lane differences.

One thousandth of a second in the pool equates roughly to 1.7 millimeters.   Continued...

Jun 29, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; View of Omega logo on a starting block during heat 7 during the men's 100 meter freestyle in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports