Michael Phelps’ victory of .01 seconds in the 2008 Beijing Olympics illustrated the importance of perfect timekeeping in sports. OMEGA, timekeeper of 25 Olympic games and counting, aptly summarized the shift from human to computer timekeeping: “Competitive swimming has come a long way since three timekeepers with handheld stopwatches crowded each of the eight lanes in major international events.”
To celebrate their continued role as official timekeeper of the Olympic games, OMEGA has devoted a section of their website to show the history behind timing the Olympics’ swimming events. Here are some of OMEGA’s groundbreaking innovations:
The Swim Eight-O-Matic Timer
A semi-automatic swimming timer, first used in the 1956 Olympics.
The touch pads used at each end of the pool were first used in the 1968 Olympic games. These touch pads helped Michael Phelps claim his 7th Gold Medal in 2008.
In 2000, OMEGA introduced live timing on their website, where users can see the results of Olympic races in real time.
As Olympic athletes continue to push the bar of endurance and athleticism in their sports, so OMEGA will continue to innovate in pursuit of absolute accuracy. Just look at how far they’ve come since their first Olympic timing assignments in 1932.
This article was originally published on July 30, 2012. It has been updated for clarity and new information.
Images ©: Header, 1-3; OMEGA.