ugh, today was frustrating day, went to bed at 4 and got up at 7 so that I could photograph swimming. Why is swimming totally off the map in the "real" world but it's crazy popular for the Olympics - it's weird. I saw three world records today. The 4x100 meters was amazing, Phelps has that dude Jason Lezak to thank for this 8th gold medal cause Phelps swam the first leg and put them in 4th place. In fact when Lezak started his leg - the final one - they were still in fourth place, he somehow over came that in 100 meters and won the event for them, it was crazy! Phelps went pretty nuts, my angle was quasi blocked by a referee and deemed unusable, oh well. Of course the pool (not swimming pool but pool) had it fine, must be nice. I'll rant about that another day. I just can't believe a 32 year-old saved them, I totally thought they were done after Phelps swam. Geez that's practically my age!
For swimming you have to sign up to get a ticket just to get in the building - the Cube. Our bureau chief - Rachel Wilner - has been nice enough to pick mine up when she gets them for the reporters. Inside there are three main shooting spots. 1, 2, and you guessed it 3. 2 is right at the finish/start line and there are only about 30 positions. So for that position you need another ticket. They give those tickets out 2 hours before the start. It usually starts at 10 so you have to be there by 8 at the latest. I got there at 8, I think there were only 5 tickets left after me.
Positions 1 and 3 are first come, first served. Pretend you are a swimmer and about to start your race (all but the 50m) once you get into your start position (oh and disregard the backstroke) if you looked directly to your right you'd see all of us dorky, stinky photographers crammed into a tiny space like sardines. I was next to a French dude who really, really liked to say his friends name who happened to be sitting two rows beneath us. Phillipe was his friends name. I know this because it has been ingrained into my brain. Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, HEY Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, AHHHH Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe, Phillipe!
There are a few overhead spots and of course some pool spots which only the wires have access to... one of those is the straight on spot and the medal ceremony which is held on the other side of the pool.
Afterwards I went to lunch with Paul Kitagaki, Wally Skalij, Jack Gruber, Scott Strazzante, Smily Pool and Michael Macor. Then I headed over to women's waterpolo - did another pano there, I've done like 15 of them! 14 are posted on our site: http://www.mercurynews.com/olympics Right now I'm doing them by hand because I can't set up a tripod so there are quite a few stitching errors, but i think it still looks pretty cool, hopefully the errors aren't too distracting.
The weather is great, no wait, that's too strong a word, let's just say it's super acceptable. Actually the pollution thing isn't the worst thing in the world because it blocks out the direct sunlight, if the sun was out you could easily add 10-15 degrees. But it's been raining the last couple of days - off and on thunderstorms and that has really cooled the weather down to make it quite bearable, if I do say so myself and I do. It is really damn humid here...
I never thought I would say this but: security is awesome! Yesterday I went to three venues, the mpc and back to the media village and I only had to go through one security screening!!! In Greece that would have been at least six screenings, six lines, six times taking off and putting back on all my equipment, etc... it's been great, they worked it out so that as long as you never leave the secured area you don't have to go through security at every building entrance, that saves a TON of time and stress. Getting out of the secured area can be a pain depending on where you are though.