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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Photo Finish Analyzed: Phelps over Cavic by One-Hundredth of a Second in 100M Butterfly

Michael Phelps wins by 1/100 of a second over Cavic of SerbiaThe Olympic 100 meter butterfly race was won in an amazing come from behind victory by Michael Phelps in 1/100 of a second over Serbia’s Milorad Čavić. Anyone watching the race might have had the same reaction as Phelps' mother, Debbie, who at the finish held up two fingers, thinking her son had come in second.

Phelps won by taking an extra alligator-arm half stroke, called a short finish by swimmers, to out touch Čavić, who was gliding to the wall in what swimmers call a long finish. The difference between the two was infinitesimally small. Phelps swam the entire race from behind, and was seventh at the turn. He knew he needed to do something desperate to win.

“When I took that last stroke I thought I lost the race there, but it turns out that was the difference,” Phelps said later.

Phelps had a time of 50.58, a personal best and an Olympic record. Cavic was timed in 50.59.

The swimming team officials from Serbia, participating as an independent nation for the first time in nearly a century, protested the results. But after looked at the official FINA footage of the race finish, broken down to the 10-thousandth of a second, they backed off their protest.

Here are some photos showing how Phelps won the race:

Phelps touches wall ahead of CavicNote how Phelps' fingers (in far lane) are slightly bowed, showing that he is pressing on the wall, while Cavic's fingers are still straight. Click to enlarge.
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photo finish: Michael Phelps, on left; Milorad Cavic on rightMichael Phelps, on left; Milorad Cavic on right

photo finish: Michael Phelps, on left; Milorad Cavic on rightPhelps, left, touches wall ahead of Cavic; click to enlarge.

photo finish: Michael Phelps beats Milorad Cavic by 1/100 sec.photo finish: Phelps wins by 1/100 sec.
Notice now Cavic lifted his head and increased his drag
as he glided to the wall, probably why he lost.

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 Phelps over Cavic by 1/100 photo, top viewPhelps, top, lunges for wall ahead of Cavic
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Michael Phelps over Cavic by 1/100 photo finishPhelps, right, touches wall ahead of Cavic
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Phelps photo finishMichael Phelps (right) just out-touches Serbia's Milorad Cavic
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Phelps, lane 5, starts his last stroke to the wall

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Michael Phelps celebrates victory in 100m butterfly, photoPhelps celebrates win
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Michael Phelps and 'Mike' Cavic shake hands after race, photoCavic, left, shakes hands with Phelps
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