BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Beijing's futuristic aquatic venue Water Cube has engendered 22 new swimming world records by Saturday as it witnesses the growth of the sport.
"We are calling it the 'swimming temple" of the world," said Cornel Marculescu, executive director of aquatic sport governing body FINA, "when people come inside, they can see this is the image, venue and place that swimming can develop."
A diver practises at National Aquatics Center, nicknamed the "Water Cube" in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 6, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
"The venue is without any doubt one of the best in the world. We don't have many swimming pools that have the design like the Water Cube," he said.
The bubble-shaped facility, with a capacity of 17,000, has won accolades every way. With so many world records felled, many are wondering if there is anything magic in the water.
The pool, however, is not any different, other than that it is a new one. It is designed according to FINA rules with 10 lanes and the depth of the water at three meters. The only factor that might have helped were the spectators who usually filled the venue to the full.
"The environment was very good, especially with the spectators cheering you on both sides of the stands," said Marculescu.
The new pool may have aided swimmers mentally in helping them feel better swimming, many say, but the fact that swimmers are getting faster should be contributed to the evolution of the sport. "The sport grows. It is not the same sport like in 1980 or 2000, it's a sport that is developing," he said.
The advances in training methods and perfection of swimming techniques should be credited to the increases in speed for swimmers, Marculescu said. He cited the crucial last stroke used by Michael Phelps when he won men's 100m butterfly race on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the roles of the new swim gears like the much hyped Speedo LZR Racer suits can't be overstated. "Athletes wearing different brands of suits can get up and win medals. Phelps, breaststroker Kitajima and Park Tae-hwan (400m freestyle winner) all wore trousers, instead of the much hyped full-body suits," Marculescu said.
"If you wear a beautiful T-shirt, you are not necessarily the most beautiful in the world. Not necessarily in the suit case either," he said.
Although Beijing sees a bigger wave of broken records than the past Olympics, it has become a rule for swimming records to be regularly broken when athletes gear themselves up for the major meets.
Fourteeen records were shattered in the 2000 Sydney Games alone, while the swimming records were downed 33 times in the whole year.
"People have been looking for reasons why performances have been so good. The real reason is that swimmers are swimming really well and the coaches are coaching really well," said Australian head coach Alain Thompson, on Thursday.