Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Small World after All.(Editor's Letter). USA,

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SI's underwater camera shows what .01 looks like

WHEN MICHAEL PHELPS out-touched Serbia's Milorad Cavic at the end of the 100-meter butterfly, no one could believe it. Even Phelps's mother, Debbie, thought he had lost. So did his coach, Bob Bowman. The crowd gasped, then erupted when the board flashed Phelps as the winner.

Phelps had made a critical decision in the final meters to pull a half-stroke while Cavic tried to glide to the finish. Phelps brought his hands down through the water and touched the wall .01 of a second before Cavic finished his glide.

To see exactly what had happened (and what one hundredth of a second looks like), the world turned to an exclusive set of pictures (page 68) made by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Heinz Kluetmeier and his assistant Jeff Kavanaugh with a remote camera, placed by Kavanaugh with scuba gear late the night before, on the bottom of the pool--an extension of Kluetmeier's innovative work in Barcelona in 1992 where SI was literally first in the water.

Kluetmeier first photographed the Olympics in Munich, in 1972, on contract for SI, and became the magazine's director of photography from 1992 to '96; he is now SI's only senior staff photographer. He has photographed every Olympics since Munich and has worked with Kavanaugh for seven years. When the two first looked at the sequence at poolside immediately after the race, they thought Phelps had lost until they saw the final shot.

"I think of these photos as a journalism exercise," says Kluetmeier. "The only way you could see who came in first is from the bottom of the pool. You can't see it from the top; you can't see it from the side. The moment of touching is visible from underwater looking straight up at a lineup of the two bodies. These photos are absolutely what SI is about--showing pictures and angles that most people don't imagine until they see them in our magazine or on our website."

The pictures drew 7.8 million page views on, and NBC's Nightly News, Today show and Olympic broadcasts featured the images that have been seen by at least 168 million people. So far.


GOLDEN TOUCH Kluetmeier captured Phelps's scant margin of victory (left) in the 100-meter butterfly.

Source Citation
McDonell, Terry. "A Small World after All." Sports Illustrated 25 Aug. 2008: 17. Academic OneFile. Web. 4 Feb. 2010. .

Gale Document Number:A183326131

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