The Reckoning

Drowning the Olympics

What fun! The scene yesterday at Wimbledon, another aquatic event held in London.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

I finally took possession of my flat here in London—a small, two-bedroom near Tower Bridge a few blocks south of the river in a neighbourhood called Shad Thames. (For those who care, I relocated in May to do a stint at my employer’s London office.)

I’ve been living out of a suitcase since relocating from Hoboken—the Shad Thames of New York—and so getting into my own digs was a big moment. I chose the location mostly because I could walk to work in about 25 minutes. And so, this morning, that is precisely what I did.


I may as well have skipped Tower Bridge and swam the Thames.

With the Olympic Games opening just 24 days from now, the misery that is London’s 2012 summer continues. April was the wettest ever recorded on this sodden island. May was notable for having several days of sunshine—several being fewer than four and more than two. The month just ended was the wettest June ever recorded. This in a country where an inquiry about the 11th-century Norman church in the neighborhood brings a shrug and dismissive snort to the effect of “You seen one Norman pile of stones, you seen ‘em all, mate”


You have to wonder what the International Olympic Committee was thinking when Tony Blair flimflammed it into granting the games to London.


It’s not as if history had not laid down dire warnings. The last time London hosted the Olympics, 1948, the weather was an unwelcome opponent in many of the events. Astoundingly, the aquatic events were held outdoors in Manchester. I suppose if you’re already in the water that might not seem to matter much.

But, in fact, the weather was so dire that, during the diving competition, gale-force winds knocked one competitor off the board. The Guardian’s coverage of the event would be comical if it were not for the contemporary implications.  “[W]ith a fierce wind whipping the surface into turbulent waves an attempt to hold the preliminary round of the women’s springboard was abandoned after competitor K. Cuthbert  had been  blown off the board into the water ten feet below.”


Mercifully, the aquatic events will be held indoors this time in a state-of-the-art facility designed by Zaha Hadid, best known for the fantastical Abu Dhabi Arts Centre.

Other athletes, however, will not be so lucky. I’ve been thinking: This is going to be the first ever All-Aquatic Summer Olympic Games. Some modifications you will see:

  • The Slippery Pole Vault
  • The Aquathalon
  • The Triple Puddle Jump
  • Outdoor Synchronized Swimming (the British have this one in the bag!) 

(Add yours in comment, please!)

To date, the 2-Mile-Walk-Across-Slippery-Pavement-With-Umbrella remains an amateur event. I’m hoping it gets “exhibition status” this year, and meanwhile I’m going to perfect it over the next few months of “summer.” That way, if IOC ever gives the games to Portland or Seattle, I’ll be ready.