Swimming: Lifeguards at the Olympic pool? It's the law

Fri Aug 5, 2016 8:39pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - It is safe to say Michael Phelps has no need for a lifeguard watching over him in the Olympic pool but the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 18 gold medals among his career haul of 22, will have one anyway at the Rio Games.

And so will the rest of the world's greatest swimmers in a situation that has caused some mirth in the run-up to the competition.

"It is a Brazilian law that any public pool over a certain size has to have lifeguards," Ricardo Prado, the sport manager for aquatics, told Reuters.

"We wish we didn't have them either (at the Games) but we have to have them."

All are certified, men and women with red and yellow uniforms and equipped with whistles and floats.

But, stargazing from some of the best seats in the house, they are undoubtedly less stressed than watching over their usual crowd.

"It's really one of the funniest things I've seen in the Olympic Games so far," New Zealand swimmer Matthew Stanley told reporters after a training session.

"Have any of you guys been to Bali before? You see the lifeguards and they sit up on the tower drinking Bintangs (beer) all day. That's what it reminded me of.   Continued...

Aug 4, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;  Prior to the start of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Olympic Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports