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Here's why you hear the loud noises while watching Olympic swimming on TV

It's not pacing. Instead, it's teams and coaches making a noise to cheer on athletes that they can hear from the water.

TOKYO, Japan — There’s no crowd at this year’s Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but people watching the broadcast at home have noticed some very noticeable horn sounds during swimming events.

Seriously: people have been tweeting about the sounds throughout the Olympics. On Reddit, people theorized about what they mean. Are they coaches trying to pace athletes? A sign that it’s the so-called “last lap” and that swimmers need to hurry up? Is it the few people in the arena just trying to give the athletes a little taste of the non-global pandemic Olympic experience? 

If you have no idea what we’re talking about, you can hear the horns in this video from the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay courtesy the NBC Olympics Twitter:

We asked Belle McLemore, a spokesperson for USA Swimming, what the horns are about, and the answer is more innocent than you’d think.

“It’s generally not for pacing,” she wrote. “The precision with which you would have to do that would be pretty difficult to execute."

“It’s just a recognizable noise that a team/coach can make to support their athlete in the absence of crowd noise," she said. "It stands up amidst general yelling/cheering and you can hear it from the water.”

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So there you go: it’s teams making sure that their athletes know they have a lot of support. 

With that being said, people on Twitter have had some funny things to say about the horns. 

One person thought they evoked a relatively insignificant battle in the "Lord of the Rings" books but a pivotal one in the films: 

Another used a very valid GIF from "The Office." 

Seriously: there are "Office" GIFs for every situation. 

One person had a solution: 

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