To watch Brendan Driscoll swim a 500-yard freestyle race is to witness crowd dynamics in action. The 500 is a grueling distance, covering 20 lengths of a 25-yard-long pool. But as Driscoll hits the wall midway through lap 10 and makes his last turn for home, a cheer wells up among his teammates, then his opponents, and then invariably, the spectators.
By the time he finishes, the cheers have become a roar, which might seem odd to the uninitiated, since he is often last in his heat. Until he pulls himself out of the pool. Then, the explanation is as clear as the sparkling waters he has just emerged from.