Olympics: A Tidal Wave off Winners

U.S. swimmers, men and women, left opponents in their wake

The shape of a swimming race, when form holds, begins as a shallow V, swept back from Lane 4, where the fastest qualifier starts, to the humble wing positions of Lanes 1 and 8. The V sharpens until, if No. 4's lead is great enough, it looks like the prow of a ship. When this fails to happen—when the V does not take form, or when its point is unbalanced to one side or the other—the spectator high in the stands comprehends the surprise first...

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