Scott Says

5 N.C. swimmers compete in Olympics Sunday

The rings at Olympic Park are a big draw for photos as fans take turns posing Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
The rings at Olympic Park are a big draw for photos as fans take turns posing Saturday in Rio de Janeiro. TNS

After a slow first day at the pool for North Carolina swimmers, they will start getting wet in earnest Sunday.

Saturday was the first day of the eight-day Olympic swim competition and one of the rare days when none of the seven N.C. swimmers had any events.

On Sunday, however, five will be in action -- Kathleen Baker and Katie Meili in their respective individual events, and relay swimmers Anthony Ervin, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Held in the 4x100 men’s freestyle relay.

The three relay swimmers could win a medal, as that event’s final is Sunday night (at 10:52 p.m. EDT). Baker and Meili are just trying to advance to Monday night’s final -- Baker in the 100 backstroke, Meili in the 100 breaststroke -- by getting through the preliminaries and semifinals Sunday.

▪ In the “Why Didn’t Other Olympics Think of This” Category ... The Brazil organizers scattered several hearty versions of the Olympic rings around the Olympic Park and elsewhere. You can climb on them or hang on them without breaking them, and most of all you can take pictures in front of them.

More than 50 people were often lined up in front of those sets of rings Saturday, politely taking turns as they tried to get a good photo of the rings and their friends.

▪ Speaking of lines, they were everywhere at the Olympic Park. There was a monstrous line for fans to clear security and get inside the park in the first place, and then there were lines at every place that sold drinks that you could imagine. One line -- for those who wanted to buy beer -- had to have been 75-100 people deep at times.

Ticket sales have been reported to be sluggish -- and indeed there are many gaps of empty seats in the venues. I'd hate to think what those lines would look like if every seat for every event was taken.

▪ Brent Bookwalter, who lives part-time in Asheville and was a star cyclist at Lees-McRae, finished 16th in a field of 144 in the Olympic road cycling race.

Bookwalter, 32, is a veteran professional cyclist making his Olympic debut for America. He was the top U.S. finisher in a grueling race of 147.5 miles that took more than six hours to complete. Bookwalter said afterward of the event, which featured numerous steep climbs and a section over cobblestones: “The race was anarchy. People dropping chains, flatting, crosswinds. It was all over the place.”