Monday, September 29, 2008

So very close

I hope you had a chance to watch the swimming competition in this summer's Olympics. As an ex-competitive swimmer (way-ex, I'm afraid) I always enjoy seeing the elite swimmers compete, but this year was special with Michael Phelps poised to take 8 gold medals and several of the swimmers I had photographed over the summer were competing in Beijing.

Milorad Cavic was one of the swimmers who trained in Key Largo and Islamorada over the summer with coach Mike Bottom and The Race Club. One day Rowdy Gaines gave me a call to see if I would shoot a series for Swanns, the Japanese google company that supports Cavic. As an aside, Rowdy is a former Olympic gold medal winner as well (3 gold medals in the 1984 Games), and did a truly amazing job with the swimming commentary for NBC at this year's Olympics. Best coverage of any swimming event, ever.

Anyway, I did the series with Mike Cavic and we had a lot of fun on the shoot. I remember watching him as he knocked out a 25-meter butterfly for my camera, and through the viewfinder I saw how his shoulders and upper body were so sculpted for powering through the water, and his waist and legs were so streamlined for minimal drag. "Hey Mike ... you're a freak of nature" I joked. Any serious swimmer should be so freakish ;)

I ran into Mike a few more times over the summer, but I was traveling and he was ready to go back to Serbia to compete with his national team. So, the next time I really saw him swim was at the Olympics when he swam the 100-meter butterfly against Michael Phelps. This may have been the most exciting race in the history of swimming given all that was on the line for both Mikes. In this one Michael Phelps just barely touched out Milorad Cavic by 1/100ths of a second. Phelps got his 8 golds and Cavic got a silver and is a national hero in Serbia, rightfully so.

So, hey Mike, thanks for the photo-ops and congratulations. That was one hell of a swim!

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