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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nyack swimmer, 72, dies at Games

BINGHAMTON - Joel Schwartz loved to swim and was proud of winning competitions. At age 72, the Nyack man served as a role model for physical fitness.

His friends and fellow swimmers said yesterday that they were shocked to learn Schwartz died Friday night after suffering a heart attack while competing in a 1,500-meter freestyle swim at the Empire State Games.

Schwartz was leading the race after 35 of the 60 laps when he was stricken in the pool at Owego Free Academy High School.

"I am so sad to hear about Joel," said Kim Coons, who swam with Schwartz at the Rockland YMCA on Broadway in Nyack.

"He was a great swimmer, and he took it very seriously," Coons said. "Joel was a great athlete, but even more importantly, he was a tremendous human being."

Coons, 52, a member of the YMCA's board of directors, called Schwartz a role model, citing his dedication not only to swimming but also to staying fit.

"He showed me how to stay in shape and remain competitive as I age," Coons said. "He had such a positive attitude. Any day I ran into Joel at the pool was going to be a good day for me."

Paul McClintock, the Empire State Games Masters swimming coordinator, said Schwartz led the 60-lap race for the 70-74 age group.

"He got to the shallow end of the pool and rolled over on his back in obvious distress," McClintock said. "The lap counter immediately pulled him over to the wall, and the lifeguards and EMT ran to him, took him out of the pool and immediately began CPR. They also had a defibrillator with them."

Owego's Fire Department and emergency squad responded to the high school pool around 7:35 p.m., Fire Chief Tom Taft Jr. said.

Taft did not identify the lifeguards but said, "Basically, they were certified and were high school students. They appeared to have done a great job, anything anybody could have done."

Schwartz was then taken to Wilson Regional Medical Center in Johnson City, where he was pronounced dead, said Fred Smith, executive director of the Empire State Games.

"We had an emergency life-support vehicle at the site, as we do at many of the events," Smith said.

Schwartz was the first athlete and third person to die in the 31-year history of the Empire State Games.

In 1986 at Buffalo, the Western region director Herb Moles suffered a heart attack right after the opening ceremonies ended. In the 1989 Games at Ithaca, a parent of a track athlete died.

McClintock said a moment of silence was observed prior to the 800 meters, in which Schwartz was scheduled to swim.

He also explained to the Masters swimmers in the session what had happened.

"This certainly casts a pall over the general actions of the athletes," McClintock said. "I had just spoke to him a few weeks ago, and I talked to him before the race. He seemed to be in good spirits and prepared for it."

Exercise was an important part of his life, as he swam and worked out in the fitness room at the YMCA, said Chuck Maze, the YMCA's chief executive officer.

Schwartz told The Journal News in an interview this year that he enjoyed training at the YMCA. He said he enjoyed the low-key atmosphere and that there was no informal competition to see who could lift the most weight.

Schwartz, a retired businessman, set an example for others at the YMCA.

He regularly swam the 60- by 20-foot pool. He used the exercise room with his wife, Debbie.

"He was well-liked by all, and I think he was one of the most physically fit YMCA members," Maze said. "We're proud of his many medals at the Empire State Games. He set an outstanding example for other members to become physically fit."

Schwartz also volunteered his time to raise money for the YMCA and awareness for physical fitness.

He and Coons recently competed in a biathlon sponsored by Toga Bikes to raise money for the Y and its aquatics program, which is used by adults, teenagers and children.

"He has such a great sense of humor and gave of himself to others," Coons said. "He was in such great shape. That's what makes this surprising. He will be missed by the community."

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The List: Five Ways Beijing Will Be the Biggest, Baddest Olympics Ever

From massive construction budgets to an unprecedented security lockdown, the Beijing Games are already Olympian in proportion.

China Photos/Getty Images

A Bigger Budget

The numbers: At least $40 billion total, including $35 billion for new roads and subway lines, $1.8 billion for venue construction and renovation, and a $2 billion operating budget

Behind the numbers: At roughly 2.5 times what Greece spent on the 2004 Athens Games, China’s spending spree is far and away the biggest in Olympic history. Transportation carries the largest price tag. Beijing built a 14-million-square-foot terminal for its airport (one of the world’s largest enclosed spaces, according to The Wall Street Journal), along with 34 new bus routes and five new subway lines, one of which cost nearly $2 billion. Overall, construction has required 3 million tons of steel, including 110,000 tons for the $486 million “bird’s nest” national stadium alone.


YUI MOK/AFP/Getty Images

A Longer Torch Route

The numbers: 137,000 km (85,100 miles), 130 days, 20,000 torchbearers

Behind the numbers: Officially dubbed the “Journey of Harmony,” the 2008 Olympic torch relay has been anything but harmonious. Marred by protests and counterprotests, and labeled a “crisis” even by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, the torch relay has been a microcosm for the broader controversy surrounding the Beijing Games. Groups supporting autonomy for Tibet received most of the attention, but a variety of activists decrying China’s stance on democracy and promoting press freedom, Taiwanese nationalism, and a range of human rights causes made their voices heard. But although politics shortened the relay in some places (San Francisco) and torpedoed it in others (Taiwan), the torch relay did have some things going for it. China’s Olympic torch traveled the longest distance and included the greatest number of torchbearers since the tradition began in 1936 … under Adolf Hitler.


MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

More Media Coverage

The numbers: 4 billion TV viewers, 3,600 hours of coverage in the United States

Behind the numbers: Aside from the timeless spectacle of international sport, interest in China’s rise and the controversy off the field make this year’s games must-see TV. Chinese media project a record 4 billion viewers will tune in throughout the 17-day games, which will be entirely produced and broadcast in HDTV for the first time. In the United States, NBC Universal plans to shoot more than 3,600 hours of coverage on its networks—tripling its previous high of 1,210 hours in Athens. After making limited amounts of coverage available in previous years on its Web site, NBC will provide 2,200 hours of streaming video online and will use the Olympics as a “billion-dollar research lab” to measure how viewers use different media platforms, according to the Associated Press. More than 20,000 accredited media will cover the Olympics for outlets worldwide, but they aren’t all happy about it: Journalists are already complaining that China has broken its word to allow the same media freedoms as previous Olympics.


China Photos/Getty Images

More Volunteers

The numbers: 1.5 million volunteers from a pool of more than 2 million applicants

Behind the numbers: Brimming with national pride and eager to show off their country to the world, Chinese people have been stricken with Olympic fever. Some 400,000 were selected to serve as “city volunteers” across Beijing, mostly helping foreign tourists navigate the language barrier. Others will help visitors cross busy streets and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. About 100,000 “games-time” volunteers will serve the Olympic and Paralympic games themselves, an increase over the previous record of 60,000 for the Athens Games. Some 400 have been rigorously training for weeks as cheerleaders, supporting “whatever team that needs it,” while another 400 have been practicing poise and posture for their role as medal presenters. The volunteers also have their own theme song, “I Am a Star.”


FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

More Security

The numbers: $6.5 billion for Beijing, $300 million for Olympic venues, 1 million video cameras, 100,000 antiterrorism squad members

Behind the numbers: The Olympics are often a prime target for radical groups seeking attention while the entire world is focused on a single event. Ever since the terror of Munich ’72 and the Atlanta bombing in 1996, the threat of security breaches has been keeping Olympic organizers up at night. China, in an effort to ensure a “perfect” Olympics, has made Beijing the most protected city in the history of the games. (Security cost “only” $1.5 billion for the Athens Games and $1.4 billion for the 2006 Turin Games.) Along with Uighur militants from Xinjiang and Tibetan freedom advocates, the government has cracked down on activists, beggars, prostitutes, and stray animals—all of which threaten Beijing’s desire to project a modern image during the games. The security measures will include biometric keys (fingerprinting and iris scanning) for sensitive areas, Segway-riding antiterrorist bomb squads, and extensive video surveillance, according to the Virginia-based Security Industry Association. Activists worry that once the athletes and spectators depart, this massive new security apparatus will be used to monitor rights advocates and political dissidents with even greater sophistication than before.

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Digital revolution could be Olympics' salvation

By Robert Woodward

LONDON (Reuters) - For the Olympic movement, the digital revolution is armed with a double-edged sword -- it has lured the younger generation away from sport but could open up the Olympic experience to a far wider audience.

"It (digital media) will have a transforming impact on the Olympics at multiple levels," says Shoba Purushothaman, CEO of Web-based video marketing platform The NewsMarket.

"It will change story-telling for the Games by making it more human and personal."

A Summer Games was one of the sporting and television highlights of the year for today's parents and grandparents.

In the 21st century, young people have a huge variety of sport, music and entertainment media to flick through, both on television and the internet, and the Olympics has no special aura for many of them.

"The Olympic Games are not that credible or relevant to most young people in the developed or developing world," says Alex Balfour, head of new media at the London 2012 organizing committee.

The average age of viewers for the 2004 Games in Athens was over 40 and shows no signs of falling.

"I will maybe watch highlight shows on TV later in the evening but I can never see myself watching it live," said Richard Cousins, a 19-year-old British student.

If the Games lose their cachet in years to come, billions of dollars from sponsorship and broadcasting rights that support the Olympic movement could melt away.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recognized the warning signs and took steps to attract a younger audience by introducing sports like snowboarding to the Winter Olympics, and BMX cycling which makes its debut in Beijing in August.

In February, the IOC went further by choosing Singapore to host the first summer Youth Olympics in 2010, a "key moment" in the words of IOC President Jacques Rogge.

"They (the Youth Olympics) will also be the platform through which youngsters will learn about Olympic values and the benefits of sport, and share their experiences with other communities around the globe," Rogge said.

Platforms and access to communities in the digital world could be just as important in deciding if the Olympics retain their high profile, experts said ahead of a Summer Games in Beijing which is being billed as the first digital Olympics.

"The Olympic Games will be played out on Facebook, YouTube and Flickr whether we like it or not. We need to engage not disengage with them," Balfour told a conference on sports and technology in London. Flickr is a photo-sharing Web site owned by Yahoo.

CONTROLLED BLOGGING

U.S. internet users viewed more than 12 billion online videos during May, according to digital research firm Comscore, a 45 percent increase over the year before. About one-third of those were on YouTube, owned by Google.

But fans expecting to visit the site to catch up on the day's action in Beijing next month are likely to be disappointed because the IOC is having problems adjusting to the share-it-all ethos of the internet.

In company with other major sports federations, the IOC keeps a very tight rein on its showpiece occasions and views video postings on sites like YouTube as a threat to its rights holders, who can broadcast on television and a number of digital platforms.

The IOC uses video-fingerprinting technology and Web-crawling (monitoring) techniques to prevent unauthorized content being uploaded and track illegal content on Web sites.

However, it has acknowledged the young's infatuation with social networking sites and the increasing power of citizen journalism.

In February, the IOC said it would allow blogging by athletes for the first time at August's Games. In 2010, the 3,500 competitors at the inaugural Youth Olympics will be urged to have their own blog.

"Technology is the key enabler for the Olympic Games," said Alexander Vronski, technology vice president for the Sochi Winter Games of 2014. "New media can engage nations."

MINORITY SPORTS

Technological advances mean minority sports will get a greater share of the spotlight via streaming video on Web sites and digital television.

In the United States, NBC will offer 3,600 hours of coverage of the August 8-24 Games, triple its offering from the Athens Games, and about a third of this will be streamed over the internet.

3G mobile phone technology could also have a huge impact on the Olympics, allowing athletes and visitors in the Chinese capital to communicate their experiences to those back home.

"People taking photos and video with their cell phones will change the way we watch the Games," says The NewsMarket's Purushothaman.

"For the first time, digital technology will liberate how we all, sitting outside, see the Games." But the IOC will not allow spectators to publish on the internet photos and video taken inside Olympic venues.

"As the iPhone capabilities are growing by the day I can probably see myself using my iPhone to view Olympic clips on the go, maybe on my way to work or when out with my friends," said Richard Woods, 20, a public relations executive.

The long-term goal of the IOC in embracing modern technology is to try to get young people away from their video consoles and out into the fresh air to play sport and stay healthy.

One reason London was chosen to stage the 2012 Games was its pledge to engage young people in the Olympic project and to encourage them to participate actively in sport.

Jon Tibbs, whose public relations company has several Olympic clients, says the "digital marketplace has the potential to re-engage hundreds of millions of people with sport" and, as an added benefit to the Olympic movement, re-energize the interest of consumer companies in sponsoring the Games.

Rogge believes that once youngsters have been persuaded to play sport, they will realize digital competition -- even the active interactivity of Nintendo's Wii console -- is no match for the cut and thrust of sporting competition.

"You will never achieve in a video game," Rogge told The Times newspaper in May. "It is not really success."

(Additional reporting by Mike Buonaiuto and Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Sara Ledwith)

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After Sitting in 2004, Ready to Stand and Deliver

From left, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant of the U.S.

By PETE THAMEL

LAS VEGAS — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony were more witnesses to USA Basketball’s meltdown at the 2004 Olympics than they were participants.

The three young stars, fresh off their rookie N.B.A. seasons, barely left the bench as Coach Larry Brown’s dysfunctional team spiraled downward to a third-place finish that became the low point for USA Basketball’s Olympic performances.

“The lowlight was not playing,” James said. “We knew we could have helped our team in certain situations throughout the game. Being away from your family for 38 days and not getting a fair opportunity to play, that was a lowlight for us three.”

Since that embarrassing performance, the entire USA Basketball organization has been rebuilt. The restructured USA Basketball has James, Anthony and Wade as its linchpins.

Jerry Colangelo, the Phoenix Suns’ chairman, was selected as USA Basketball’s managing director in 2005. He installed mandatory three-year commitments to end the revolving door of players cycling through the system, then bailing out of competitions at the last minute.

A sixth-place finish at the 2002 world championships and a bronze medal at the Athens Olympics had exposed as hubris the idea that a handful of American players could essentially walk out on the court and beat foreign teams that had practiced together for years.

“We have to go over and prove to the world that we’re just not high-paid showboat athletes,” Wade said. “We have to show that we know this game and respect this game and know how to play this game the right way. There’s a lot riding on this for the future of USA Basketball.”

Colangelo installed Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski as the coach of the national team and then approached 24 players in face-to-face meetings to invite them to be part of the program. That way, there would be a host of players familiar with the coaching staff, their teammates and the nuances of international basketball.

“This team has been a different team because it’s a team that’s been built for three years,” Wade said. “This is how we’re going to build. This is how we got back to the top of the mountain.”

There is no better way to quantify the revamping of USA Basketball than the amount of time that the team has practiced together.

The 2004 Olympic team practiced together for 20 days before the Athens Games. The core of the team heading to Beijing will have trained, practiced and played together for 89 days in the past three years.

By having a program that now includes more than 30 players, USA Basketball is able to have roster flexibility but still hold a sense of familiarity and stability.

“I think what comes across to me is that there’s a bond that’s taken place among a lot of these players,” Colangelo said. “They’re much more cohesive both on and off the court than they ever were. I think that’s going to pay dividends.”

So far, the results have been solid but not perfect. USA Basketball is 18-1 since Colangelo’s extreme makeover. In 2006 at the world championships in Japan, the United States team won by an average of 20.5 points. But a loss in the semifinals to a Greek team that did not have a single N.B.A. player forced the United States to settle for bronze.

At the FIBA Americas Championship last summer, Team USA went 10-0, with an average margin of victory of 39.5 points. Its final two victories were examples of its progress. Team USA lost to Puerto Rico by 19 points to open the 2004 Olympics, but in the FIBA semifinals, it defeated Puerto Rico by 44. Team USA lost to Argentina by 7 points in 2004, but in the FIBA final, the United States won by 37.

The success carried over here Friday in the opener of the United States’ exhibition schedule, as Anthony and Wade scored 20 points each in a 120-65 rout of Canada.

Aside from continuity, the biggest difference in this United States team compared with 2004 and 2006 is the quality of the players.

The 2004 Olympic team had a chemistry disaster in the backcourt with Stephon Marbury and Allen Iverson. The 2006 world championship team started the decidedly unspectacular backcourt of Kirk Hinrich and Joe Johnson for the later games in the tournament.

With the consummate distributor Jason Kidd in the backcourt with perhaps the world’s best player, Kobe Bryant, the starting lineup for Beijing will be appreciably better.

“One of the things people forget a little bit about was that team in 2004 wasn’t the team we would have been, necessarily, the team that we would have fielded, had certain players been available,” Colangelo said. “Kidd and Kobe were two examples. We had some problems sizewise in the backcourt and had lacked a little bit of maturity. The players were all very young.”

Brown’s reputation of being hard on young players carried over to the games in Athens. With Wade, Anthony and James mostly relegated to the bench, Brown relied on a group of mismatched talents like Marbury, Richard Jefferson and Shawn Marion.

“It was very comical,” Wade said of 2004. “You look at it and you shake your head. I look at the roster of that team. How did we take it? Everyone on that team was a good individual player, but when you put them together, it didn’t mix. It was like a bad mix of food.”

And it left a bitter taste in the mouths of the three holdovers. James said he did not know where his bronze medal is. He said he took it to his mother’s house after the Games and had not seen it since. Anthony called the United States’ 2004 performance “embarrassing” and said standing on the platform to accept the bronze medal was a surreal experience. “I didn’t like that feeling,” Anthony said. “I didn’t enjoy that feeling at all.”

Three years of preparation have left the Americans so confident that James issued a guarantee that the Americans would win the gold medal.

He is not the only one with a gold-or-bust mentality. Anthony said the Americans would “have to beat ourselves” to lose.

And if Team USA does climb the podium for gold as expected, Anthony, James and Wade may appreciate it the most because they have seen the depths of American basketball firsthand.

“I’ve been waiting four years for this moment,” Anthony said. “I’ve been waiting four years for this gold medal. It’s going to be special.”

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Brett Favre will not report to Packers practice on Monday


Morry Gash / Associated Press
Brett Favre said Packer GM Ted Thompson asked him to wait to report to training camp. "I don't want to be a distraction to the Packers, and I hope in the next few days we can come to an agreement that would allow me to continue playing football," Favre to SI.com's Peter King.
By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Brett Favre won't be reporting to practice today when the Green Bay Packers open training camp. But that doesn't mean the retired quarterback is going to give up his fight to return -- probably with another team.

According to an ESPN report Sunday, Favre has signed a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking to be reinstated but has yet to fax it to league headquarters.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that as of late Sunday night, the league had not received the request.

Favre said he is open to a trade, not just to Tampa Bay or the New York Jets, and is hoping Goodell can help bridge the quarterback's impasse with Packers General Manager Ted Thompson.

"I asked Ted [Saturday], 'Am I welcome in the building if I report?' and Ted was just about shattered," Favre told ESPN. "He said, 'Brett, you can't do that -- you'll get me fired.' I told him I'm not trying to get anybody fired. So Ted asked me to let the guys report and let's try to resolve this over the next two or three days."
Favre said Thompson is not receptive to the idea of giving him a chance to win the starting job from Aaron Rodgers in a quarterback competition at camp.

Favre said the commissioner is "willing to help but he has to be careful.

"I told him I could easily send in this letter [of reinstatement] but they really don't want me there and it'll be a big circus. They play this both ways. Privately, they don't want me there. Publicly, if I sent in the letter but didn't show up right away, they could always fine me or say, 'See, why isn't he here? He really doesn't want to play.' Give me my release and see if I want to play or not."

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NYPD probes cop in YouTube body-check video

Posted by Steven Musil

A New York City police officer was stripped of his gun and badge after a video posted on YouTube showed him body-checking a bicyclist during Friday's Critical Mass bicycle ride.

The video (see below), which was shot by a tourist and posted on the video-sharing site Sunday, shows bicyclists whizzing past uniformed officers during the Times Square protest. One officer begins to stride across the street, picking up speed and violently tackling a bicyclist into a crowded sidewalk.

The video sparked an immediate public outcry and led the department to place the officer, identified by several news agencies as Patrick Pogan, 22, on desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

The bicyclist, Christopher Long, 29, was charged with blocking traffic, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and assault, prosecutors said.

Critical Mass is a leaderless mass bicycle ride typically held on the last Friday of each month in cities around the world. The event, which originated in San Francisco in 1992, is alternately referred to as a celebration and a protest against automobile-choked streets.

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Pictured: The moment 100 skydivers came together mid-air to form a 747-sized diamond

For a few precious seconds these 100 skydivers linked up, thousands of feet above Florida.

It was all the time they needed to break the world record for the largest number to gather in a single formation.

One slip and their huge diamond of pinks and greens would have collapsed, sending them crashing into one another and plummeting from the sky.


Take two: The 100 skydivers were able to 'dock' together - gripping the canopies of each other's parachutes - on their second attempt

Roughly the size of a 747 jet, the successful formation broke the previous record of an 85-way canopy formation set in 2005.

A canopy formation, one of the most difficult manoeuvres for parachutists, is built by parachutists flying their parachutes in proximity to each other and then taking grips ("docking") on other jumpers' parachutes.

The practice of building such formations is known by several names; canopy formations (CF), canopy formation skydiving (CFS) or canopy relative work( CRW or CReW).

The 100 jumpers were able to join together on a second of two attempts, using their hands and feet to hook up to adjacent parachutes.

The skydivers exited five planes flying at staggered altitudes to execute the formation.



Sparkling: The diamond formation, made of 100 skydivers jumping from five different planes, is roughly the size of a 747 jumbo jet

The stunt took seven years of planning and training. Each skydiver had to learn how to link up with his lower neighbours by locking his feet into their lines and grabbing their canopies with his arms extended behind him.

Brian Pangburn, a participant and one of the organisers of the record jump, explained the technical complexities behind the record.

'The canopy formation is probably only done by about five per cent of skydivers in the world,' explained the 43-year-old.

'The planning for this was very precise.

'We had five planes, three Otters and two CASAs, which carried the jumpers.

'The way you build it is that the gut on top starts and then he grabs the guy coming from underneath and so on. So we actually built it from the top going down.

'The first plane, which was at 21,000 ft carried the first nine jumpers. They pulled their cords immediately after exiting the plane to get into position.


Starburst: The formation begins to break apart - the most dangerous part of the stunt

'Exactly two minutes later we had another plane empty out the next 25 jumpers and two videographers from 18, 000 ft.

'Two minutes after that at 15,000 ft we had another aircraft with another 25 jumpers.

'And then at 12, 000 ft we had the last two planes carrying 20 and 21 jumpers.

'It took us 11 minutes from the moment the first jumpers exited to when everyone hit the ground so we didn't have much time.

'We also knew we had to break apart at no lower than 4,000 ft so that everyone to land safely on the ground.

'It was close but we got the record just at the last moment.'

Using specially designed advanced technology and aerodynamic PD Lightning CReW parachutes the jumpers were travelling at 1, 200 ft per minute.

The success of the formation was built around solid communication.

'Only three people out of the hundred could transmit messages - two in the air and one from the ground,' explained Brian.

'Each docking had to be exactly right so the communication had to be spot on.

'The most dangerous portion was breaking the formation which is know as a 'starburst'.

'When we broke it down we send off the bottom row and start counting backwards.'

Buckle up: The skydivers in one of the five planes prepare for the dangerous jump

For Brian one of the hardest tasks was to find enough participants to break the world record.

'The canopy formation is probably only done by about five per cent of skydivers in the world,' explained the 43-year-old.

'It was very difficult for us to find the talent and we had to look around the world to get this record done.

'Fifty-six per cent of the team were from America, the other 44 per cent were from countries all over the globe - Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Russia, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Egypt, Argentina and Canada.'

Brian, who is also a member of the US Skydiving team and trains canopy formations all over the world, has been part of the organising team since 2000.

'I got involved in the 100 way record because after the Germans broke the 53 record back in 1996 they proclaimed it to be a physical impossibility to build anything larger.

'That sounded like a challenge to me so we decided to see how big we could go.

'But we never dreamed of going to 100 until 2003 when we put up a 70 way and then in 2005 we got the world record 85 way.

'It wasn't until then that we thought 100 might actually be doable.

'Over the years we have gained a pretty good group of people from around the world who could get it done.

'As we got more and more credibility we were able to attract better people from around the world.'

However such was the skill levels involved, Brian and his team had to assemble the best skydivers in the business - from all over the world.

'We started the training camp in February and we would invite people from around the world to what we called a try out/raining camp and we would evaluate their performance and we had a certain criteria they had to meet.

'They had to dock with in a certain time period and they docked nice and smooth. Then we gave them a formal invitation to participate in the record.

'From the time we started in February I was only home 21 days. We were going around the world evaluating people it took a lot of time to do that.'

Brian found that not only the language, but also the different styles of techniques played a large factor in deciding the final team.

'It is kind of difficult with the language barrier and with all the different cultures of skydiving.

'Some people are used to doing things some ways and we ended up having to change a few mindsets to say we are going to go out and do things this way. Everybody had to thinking the same way.

'Between the actual language communication and the techniques they were two of our biggest obstacles that we had to face.

'Three of us went around to pick the talent and it was a difficult chore because there were a lot of talented people around the world and some were better than us but we had to have the same techniques in order to make this thing work.

'The Russian were talented but some didn't make the team because they wouldn't adopt the same techniques.'

Videographer Norman Kent documented the world record as he parachuted next to the formation.

'In the case of the 100 record my job was much more complicated,' said the 52-year-old.

'The concept of the 100 canopy is a little bit crazy. You jump out of an aeroplane and arrive and open your parachute and then you're going to go and mess with it so that is off the wall.

'I know a lot of skydivers look at them and say to these guys, are you nuts?'

Despite the months of planning, Norman still had to work on instinct to get the best shot.

'There's a lot of guess work involved in this type of photography,' he explains.

'This is a nerve wracking drama and you are in the middle of it.'

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