You can't have an Olympics without water. We suppose you can't have anything much without water, but an Olympics in particular needs a lot of water. The Olympics has official water, of course. Evian is usually the official water of the Olympics, because Evian is French and the French pretty much rule the Olympics. It's because of the French, for instance, that some of the country abbreviations make no sense. "MAR" is Morocco. Ah, okay. Thanks, France.

It is also a true fact that if Evian had been named the official water of these Games, they would have piped it straight into that nifty slalom canoe/kayak course.

But no, the official water here is Avra, a perfectly adequate water -- in that it is wet -- grown right here in Greece.

Everyone at the Olympics consumes gallons of Avra a day. (We would say "litres" except that we're Americans. It may come in litres, but we drink in ounces. Except when we drink in pints. But that's a) not water, and b) another column.) We consume about 62 little bottles of Avra a day, and then make 62 trips to the Little Avra Consumers Room.

The athletes drink even more little bottles of Avra than we do, although they probably sweat more of it out than, say, your average editor. They also love to pour it over themselves. The runners, cyclists, triathletes -- they'll grab a bottle, take a big swig and throw the rest of it away. There are piles of half-empty Avra bottles all over Athens, blocking our view of the Parthenon.

Sometimes they pour it over themselves. We believe they do this because they are embarrassed by how much they are sweating. In fact, everyone in Athens who is not a native is embarrassed by how much he or she is sweating. "Flop sweat" is too delicate a description of Athens sweat. "Tsunami sweat" is closer.

So we offer up little bottles of Avra to 200-meter runners Shawn Crawford, Bernard Williams and Jason Gatlin, to long jumpers Dwight Phillips and John Moffitt, to the U.S. women's soccer team and the U.S. men's basketball team and everyone else who was schvitzing to beat the band yesterday in Athens.

As for Alpha and Omega, we feel another Tsunami coming on.

Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh. That's better.

BUST OF THE DAY: The U.S. canoe/kayak flatwater team has now gone three Olympics without a medal. "The fact is that some countries have put increasing resources into their flatwater program and we just have not," said David Yarborough, the program's executive director. "That's not the sole answer, but that's certainly a part of it."

SURPRISE OF THE DAY: U.S. hurdler James Carter seemed to run out of steam at the end of the men's 400-meter hurdles, finishing fourth, and teammate Bennie Brazell was last.


"One of my eyes is smiling at the good competition, the presence of 261 athletes from 79 countries, the excellent facilities at the Nikaia Olympic Weightlifting Hall and the Olympic spirit here. The other eye is crying because of the drug taking. "

-- Tamas Ajan of Hungary, president of the International Weightlifting Federation.

SIGN OF THE ACROPOLIS: Hungarian Robert Fazekas's complaints about the drug testing procedures that cost him his gold medal in discus are a little over the top. As we told you in excruciating detail yesterday, Fazekas was unable to provide enough urine for post-competition testing. (What a sentence; that journalism degree is paying BIG dividends.) Fazekas now says: "I was treated badly. They stripped me off . . . and even looked into my backside. It was like the Gestapo method in World War II." Robert, a couple of guys in white coats and rubber gloves couldn't be the warmup act for the Gestapo. Pipe down.

-- Tracee Hamilton