Few announcers have the task of covering two Olympic sports during a single games. Julie Swail is one of those individuals as NBC's analyst for both water polo and the triathalon. But, she's well suited for the job as one of few athletes to compete as an Olympian in two different sports. Julie captained the USA team to a silver medal in water polo in 2000 and competed in the triathalon in 2008 at Beijing. She chats with AA about the challenges in calling both sports from London.
Q: What are the biggest challenges in preparing for calling these Olympics, especially considering you're calling two sports.
A: The biggest challenge in preparing to call water polo is getting familiar with the other countries. I'm familiar with the U.S. team and the players, but I don't get to watch a lot of international water polo. It is similar to studying for final exams. I try to research team tendencies, players, strategies, strengths and weaknesses so that I have an idea of what to expect going into each game. There is great parity in women's water polo now though, so any one of the top seven teams could come away with a gold. It makes it exciting, but also requires in depth research on all eight teams.
The biggest challenge in preparing to call triathlon is the unknown. The same field could contest a race four consecutive times and come out with a different podium each time. There are 10-12 women who could win and have been on the podium in the last year. It is a matter of whether or not there will be several smaller groups (where a swim/bike specialist could win) or one large group (where a run specialist would excel.) In predicting the medal favorites, it changes with the weather conditions. Some athletes that excel with cold, wet weather, melt in the heat. While some who thrive in the heat, get too tight in the colder elements.