V.I.'s Mays enjoying experience as an Olympic swimming judge
Published: August 2, 2012
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LONDON - A global audience has tuned in to watch swimming phenoms like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte slice through the pool and collect medals at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
St. Croix resident Brent Mays probably had the best seat in the house for each of the races.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Swimming Federation president is an official swimming judge at the Olympics, and has been on the pool deck at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium everyday since Saturday.
"For me, its like the Super Bowl, but it lasts eight days," said Mays, the only active certified-swim judge from the territory. "I really do have a great vantage point for the races. You really can't get any closer. My socks are always soaking wet."
Mays has lent his expert eye each day during the morning session, which lasts from 10 a.m to noon, and then during the finals session at night, which goes from 6 p.m. until about 9 p.m.
He has served as a turn judge on the pool deck for many races, and has spent two days in what is called the 'call room,' where swimmers check in moments before their races.
Inside the call room, Mays and other judges are responsible for checking each athletes' credentials, bathing suit, swim cap and goggles. They have to remain professional and there's no time to gawk at the super stars.
"I checked Lochte's credentials twice, and even spoke briefly with Phelps," said Mays, who swam in college and has followed the sport since he was a child. "I also met the South African kid who beat Phelps in the 200 fly. He ran through the room looking for someone to hold his gold medal because he had to race in the next relay."
Mays was also in the call room when USVI swimmer Branden Whitehurst checked in for his 100-meter freestyle preliminary race on Tuesday morning.
"He had his head phones on and he looked ready to race," Mays said. "I was able to shake his hand and wish him good luck."
Whitehurst finished with a 51.04 in his heat and was not able to advance to the event semifinals. Mays watched the race from a big screen television inside the call room.
Mays held a similar role at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and is hoping to join FINA regulation committees or technical rules committees in the future.
"That would be the next step, and I plan to continue," Mays said. "But there's no arguing the Olympics is the tops. It's been just an unbelievable experience."
Mays' last day of Olympic service is Saturday - he is scheduled to be the judge in the same lane Phelps has been assigned to for the 200 Individual Medley semifinals - and will leave London on Sunday.
Next weekend, he and his wife Jodie, a former USVI swimmer, will visit their son Bryson, who is just starting his freshman year at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
- Contact sports writer Aaron Gray at 714-9102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.