The New York Times ran a piece today about the work that goes into capturing photos of Olympic swimmers from underwater. The process is not as simple or mechanical as you might expect it to be, and requires a great deal of preparation and creativity from the photographers who own the cameras.
Before any events begin, each photographer has to dive into the bottom of the pool, and set their camera up in a way that they think will capture the shot they are imagining. When the competition begins, the photographers use a remote to snap the images at the perfect moment.
The first person to use an underwater camera at the Olympics was Heinz Kluetmeier, who placed a camera in the pool at the 1992 Olympics. From the Times:
He was the first person to place a camera at the bottom of an Olympic pool, at the Barcelona Games in 1992. That year he dived the 12 feet to the bottom, only to resurface to find a guard with a submachine gun.
"He said I had to take it out," Kluetmeier said. "He thought it was a bomb."
So let's all be a little more appreciative of those magnificent photos we get every Olympics, OK? Some guy almost got shot in the face 20 years ago so that we could enjoy them.
To Get the Shot, Nerve, Luck and Scuba Gear [New York Times]