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Keeping time as world records tumble at FINA World Championships

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As world records were broken at the FINA World Championships, Singapore Sports shines the spotlight on the timekeeping equipment at the heart of the meet; equipment that can keep time to a millionth of a second.

Omega, the official timekeeper of the FINA World Championships, treated media to a behind-the-scenes tour of its advanced timekeeping capabilities.

Omega board member Peter Hurzeler gives the media a behind-the-scenes look at FINA World Championship’s timekeeping equipment. (photo by Singapore Sports)

Who better to head the tour than the developer himself, Peter Hurzeler? The 75-year-old, who has been with the company for almost 44 years, has seen 15 Olympic Games, 36 continental games, 19 swimming world championships and over 300 athletic meetings.

Standing over the starting block at the swimming pool, Mr Hurzeler said the words he is now famous for:”A swimmer is the only athlete who can stop his own time".
This is unlike other athletes who rely on officials to keep their time. With the development of the touch pads, found in all Olympic swimming pools, swimmers can literally stop their timings by placing their palm anywhere on the pads. They are designed so that the necessary pressure is the same at any location on the pad. The sensitivity of the touch pads is such that while a swimmer’s touch will stop the clock, the movement of the water will not affect them. This is done simply by applying a force of 1.5 kg to 2.5 kg to any point of the touch pad.

He also touched on the quantum aquatic timer which boasts an enhanced resolution of 1 microsecond (one millionth of a second). This means that the resolution is 100 times greater than with previous devices.

Besides revolutionary equipment, Mr Hurzeler added that Omega provides value-added services to a home-viewer. This includes graphics, names and the world record line seen on television. This area is where Omega is looking to advance in future as they are driven to make the sport more interesting for the people at home, said Mr Hurzeler.
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