Vollmer told NBC after the race that her outer cap popped off during the race. It was later seen floating near the bottom of the pool next to a mobile tracking video camera.
Olympic swimmers often wear two caps during races. The first is used to cover their hair. The second conceals the goggles strap and smooths any cranial bumpiness. If the outer cap falls off there is the potential the goggles could slip, and without that second cap there is more drag in the water because the first one could wrinkle up. This all could add up to a loss of valuable split seconds in a world-class race.
"The top cap came off," Vollmer told Andrea Kremer after winning her first individual gold medal. "I have never had that happen before. I thought about it, and maybe it kept my mind off my legs hurting or something. I don't know."
The scene brought back memories of Michael Phelps' goggles filling up with water during his 200-meter butterfly victory at the Beijing Olympics. The goggles slipped during Phelps' start and immediately charged with water. As a result, Phelps couldn't see and was forced to count his strokes on each lap so he'd be able to find the wall.
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