A backpage splash that was hours in the making

Reuters photographer MICHAEL DALDER spent more time in the Olympic pool during the London Games than Michael Phelps. That was how he managed to get so many stunning underwater pictures

Michael Dalder’s photograph for Reuters of Russia’s Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina – one of a set of stunning shots taken during the London Olympics

After shooting 15 days of swimming, diving and synchronised swimming, the staff of Simons Dive Lodge helped me with the final dive into the Olympic pool. We went down to take our remote controlled robotic underwater camera out of the water.

To get this special perspective from below, we brought 6 Peli Cases containing some 200kg of equipment including 150 metres of power and network cables to the Aquatics Centre to place the underwater camera in the water.

Covering swimming with the underwater unit guarantees long work days as the camera can only be accessed early in the morning or after 10pm at night after the last swimming competition is over.

To get different angles I jumped into the water almost every day to change positions and lenses. I spent almost 8 hours over the last two weeks in the Olympic pool doing 25 dives to adjust, replace or rescue the remote controlled underwater camera. This was definitely longer in the Olympic pool than stars like Michael Phelps from the US spent.

The timeframe allotted for us to access the camera was determined by the Olympic Broadcasting Service – often on very short notice.

Often, I discovered that it is possible to sweat underwater. Those with diving knowledge know that 20 minutes for a dive, including getting into full scuba gear, getting into the pool and getting on your back under the water, is a very short amount of time. This would have been impossible without the friendly help of Simon and his dive crew.

However, being an eyewitness to three world records and four Olympic records was really good compensation for working long days and carrying heavy equipment.

Only a very small number of people get to watch such a great sport and swim in the same water as the athletes. I am very happy to be one of the privileged few and look forward to the next tournament.


Mon Sep 24: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill GC. Booking details from Paul Trow at

Thu Dec 6: 2012 SJA British Sports Awards. An Olympic year extravaganza. Note the date in your diary now. Details to be announced soon.