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Setting rumors to rest; Spitz snubbed by officials; early wakeup calls

Olympic organizers have not only worked to keep L.A.'s notorious smog under control, but also to clear the air of erroneous information. They set the record straight about the Koreans, who were barbecuing snacks, not snakes. And the one about the British equestrian horses needing oxygen masks for the smog. The masks actually are utilized during the high-altitude flight over and back.

* A host of fomrer American Olympic champions took part in the Opening Ceremony. Mark Spitz, however, was not among them, even though he lives in Los Angeles. Instead, the man who won seven swimming gold medals at Munich in 1972 wound up sitting in the stands with his wife and in-laws during the pomp and pageantry of opening day.

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The official explanation given for Spitz's absence involves his work as an ABC-TV commentator, which the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee said would constitute a conflict of interest. It's no secret, however, that Mark has not been in the good graces of either the local organizers or the US Olympic Committee. He tangled with the LAOOC over an Olympic T-shirt he wanted to market , and rubbed USOC officials the wrong way with a critical remark he made about the National Sports Festival.

* In an amusing takeoff on NBC's Wimbledon tennis telecasts, a local headline writer called early-morning Olympic basketball games ''Breakfast at Inglewood.'' The competition is at the Forum in Inglewood.

To get ready for back-to-back 9 a.m. games during the heavy schedule of the preliminary rounds, the US women's team worked hard at becoming ''morning people ,'' according to head coach Pat Head Summitt. All the early wake-up calls obviously paid off, as the squad breezed to victory by wide margins every time.

But that doesn't mean the women necessarily liked their morning scrambles, particularly with five players per suite at the Olympic Village. ''Pam McGee flips on the light at 5:30 and it's a mad dash to the bathroom,'' says Cheryl Miller, the team's leading scorer. ''Pam wants in there to hog the mirror. I learned one thing: birds aren't up that early.''

* Many spectators and TV viewers were surprised this year when they learned that the swimming competition was being held outdoors. What they may have forgotten, though, is that the sport was never contested indoors until the 1948 London Olympics, and not on a regular basis until 1964 at Tokyo.

At the first modern Olympics in 1896, in fact, the swimming races were held in the open sea off the coast near Athens. Among other early competition sites were the River Seine at the 1900 Paris Olympics and an artificial lake at the 1904 St. Louis Games. London placed a 100-meter pool in the middle of the track and field stadium in 1908, and Stockholm utilized a 100-meter salt-water pool in a sheltered harbor four years later.

Anyway, the return to the great outdoors made a lot of sense - for while the open-air USC Swim Stadium is basically a high-rise bleacher structure, the chance it afforded everyone to bask in the sun certainly made for a more summery feeling.

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