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kottke.org posts about swimming

The absolutely nutso Quintuple Anvil Triathlon

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2016

The competitors in standard course triathlons, which is the format used for the Olympics, have to swim nearly a mile, bike 25 miles, and run 6.2 miles. The men’s gold medalist at the 2016 Olympics finished with a time of 1 hour 45 minutes. The Ironman triathlon is much longer: a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and then you run an entire marathon (26.2 miles); the current world record for this distance is 7 hours 35 minutes.

The Quintuple Anvil Triathlon is five Ironman triathlons in five days, i.e. your basic total insanity.

Crushed by exhaustion, you may dream of a competitor’s head morphing into a Pokémon-like demon — and then open your eyes and still see it. The next day you will quit the race.

To fill your queasy stomach during your third 112-mile bike ride, you will discover the best way to eat a sausage-and-egg sandwich: shove it in your mouth and let it slowly dissolve.

After 500 miles on a bike, 10 in the water and more than 100 on foot, it will make perfect sense to grab a branch and a broomstick in a desperate bid to propel yourself — like a giant mutant insect — the last 31 miles. It will not be enough. You will collapse on the road.

Seasick, miles into the swim, you will vomit. Twice.

Neck cramps will attack so fiercely on the bike that your head will slump. You will go cross-eyed and nearly crash.

This reminds me of one of my favorite things I’ve ever posted, this story about ultra-endurance cyclist Jure Robic.

For one thing, Jure Robic sleeps 90 minutes or less a day when competing in ultracycling events lasting a week or more…and goes crazy, like actually insane, during the races because of it. Because he’s insane, his support crew makes all the decisions for him, an arrangement that allows Robic’s body to keep going even though his mind would have told him to quit long ago.

I’m also reminded of Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere skiing/walking to the South Pole and back, covering a distance of 1795 miles in 105 days. That’s 17 miles a day for more than three straight months. And just this morning, I was thinking my chair was a little uncomfortable.

Update: So get this: the the Quintuple Anvil Triathlon is a mere trifle compared to the Triple DECA Iron in which competitors do an Ironman triathlon every day for 30 days. ASDFADASGRETHRYJH!!! I cannot even start to think about beginning to even with this. (via @ben_lings)

We Work Remotely

Swimming with icebergs

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 21, 2014

Watch as Stig Severinsen, aka The Man Who Doesn’t Breathe, swims underwater amongst icebergs. Beautiful.

Severinsen is currently the world’s record holder for the longest time holding a breath at 22 minutes. 22! I barely breathed myself while watching this video of his record breaking attempt. (via devour)

Dara Torres gunning for 2012 Olympics

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2010

I don’t know whether she still looks this fit or not, but Dara Torres is going to try to make the US swim team for the 2012 Olympics. At 41 in Beijing, she won three silver medals; she’ll be 45 when London rolls around.

The Midtown Games

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 20, 2009

It was so hot in New York City last week — HOW HOT WAS IT? — it was so hot that the first event of the Midtown Games was held in a fountain on 50th St.: a 50m freestyle swim.

Friday, August 14th at 1pm marked the opening event of the Midtown Games: Olympics, and was attended primarily by the city’s punch-drunk, heat-stroked interns. With the blare of a foghorn the crowd closed in like a shield, trumpets sang out “Eye of the Tiger” and five swimmers in Speedos and caps leapt into the burbly water of a decorative fountain to swim its 50 metres or so in elegant racing style.

Swimming the Atlantic

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 11, 2009

I had no idea people were swimming across the entire Atlantic Ocean now. The first woman, a 56-year-old from Colorado named Jennifer Figge, just completed the trip from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa to Trinidad. But she made the trip in only 29 days, which has raised some questions as to how far she swam vs. floated via boat.

2008 is best sports year ever

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 06, 2009

Sports Illustrated named 2008 the best year ever in sports. In my best links post, I said that three 2008 sporting events stuck out in my mind but this article reminded me of one more: Jason Lezak’s amazing anchor leg in the 4x100 freestyle.

Phelps-Cavic photo finish

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 16, 2008

Underwater photos from the finish in the men’s 100-meter butterfly finals, both just before Phelps and Cavic touched the wall and just after. It’s amazing how far Phelps was behind before his half-stroke.

Cavic seems like an interesting guy and is handling the close loss well. He wrote an entry on his blog entitled “Success!!!”

On winning a SILVER medal: I am completely happy, and still in complete disbelief that I was able to achieve this feat! I’m not joking… It’s a tough loss, but I’m on cloud nine. I congratulated Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman. I’m just glad the race was fun to watch for everyone. It was a pleasure for me, really.

Cavic came to Beijing with the goal of winning the bronze in this event; he called his silver “the greatest moment of my life”. I also liked this account of his pre-race routine:

Hall said he could tell before the race that Cavic was in the right frame of mind to challenge Phelps, when he adopted the same prerace routine as Phelps by putting one foot on the starting block and turning to face in his rival’s direction.

“Most guys are trembling when they have to step up to Michael Phelps,” Hall said. “But he did not fear him, and it showed.”

Cavic said he was not “staring him down” before the race.

“Both of us had metallic goggles, so I couldn’t see his eyes, and he couldn’t see mine,” Cavic said. “Maybe he was able to see the reflection of himself, and he was like, Hey, I look pretty good. I saw myself in his reflection and was like, I’m keeping this under control.”

Update: Here’s a look at how the Omega timing system used in the Water Cube works. The timing system is more accurate than the pool architecture:

OMEGA touch pads and starting blocks are part of an integrated timing system capable of recording times to the nearest 1/1000th of a second. However, because it is not possible to build swimming pools in which each lane is guaranteed to be precisely the same length, Olympic and World Records are still recorded to the nearest 1/100th of a second.

(thx, david)

Update: Sports Illustrated has a frame-by-frame look at the Phelps/Cavic finish. For the conspiracy theorists out there, I believe the fifth frame tells the tale pretty well.

Michael Phelps’ iPod

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 15, 2008

Before each race during the Olympics, Michael Phelps is seen sporting those ubiquitous white iPod earbuds. But what’s he listening to? A lot of rap and hip hop.

McDonald’s medals

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 15, 2008

Morgan Spurlock ate McDonald’s for 30 days, gained 25 pounds, and had health problems. US swimmer Ryan Lochte has eaten McDonald’s for “almost every meal” since he arrived in Beijing and has won four Olympic medals. His fellow swimmer Michael Phelps doesn’t eat so healthy either. In a sport where you can win or lose by tenths or hundredths of seconds, I wonder what impact a proper diet would have on their times. (And to not eat any Chinese food — one of the world’s great cuisines — while in Beijing? A travesty.)

Update: The Guardian’s Jon Henley tries Michael Phelps’ diet for a day. Unsuccessfully, I don’t need to add. (thx, laura)

Update: Fear of illness may also have something to do with Lochte’s standing reservation at McDonald’s.

Swimming holes

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 09, 2008

An extensive of list of swimming holes to be found in the US. (via reference library)

Weekend sports wrap

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 07, 2008

1. The Federer/Nadal final at Wimbledon was epic. I was tense for the entire duration of the final three sets, which lasted about 2.5 to 3 hours. After years of sportswriters declaring that Roger Federer is the best player of all time, we might be faced with the possibility that he’s not even the best player of his generation. Two data points: 1) Nadal has shown that he can win on any surface, including Federer’s specialty, and 2) Nadal’s head-to-head record against Federer is 10-5 (although many of those wins came on clay). The match also clearly reveals the idiocy of this lame Bill Simmons article about how tennis needs to change.

2. Joey Chestnut successfully defended his title this weekend at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, eating 59 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. He needed a 5-dog overtime to hold off long-time champ Takeru Kobayashi, who has lost to Chestnut the last two years. Chestnut weighs 230 pounds while Kobayashi is only 160 pounds.

3. The US Olympic swimming trials are over and Michael Phelps qualified in 5 individual events and will likely participate in three relays as well, giving him a chance to break Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals won in a single Olympics. Overshadowing Phelps’ achievements was “41-year-old mom” (that’s how they kept describing her on TV) Dara Torres, who qualified in both the 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter freestyle.

Update: Ok, Nadal can’t consistently win on hardcourt. But he’s 22…give him time. (thx, everyone)

Dara Torres

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 30, 2008

This is Olympic swimmer Dara Torres.

Dara Torres

She’s 41 years old, has a two-year-old daughter, and won her first Olympic medal, a relay gold, in 1984. Torres is training to make the 2008 US Olympic team, but it’s not some casual attempt to relive the good old days: Torres set the American record in the 50-meter freestyle just a few months ago. As the photo above attests, part of Torres’ continuing success is due to her training regimen.

Torres calls resistance stretching her “secret weapon.” Bob Cooley, who invented the discipline, describes it in less-modest terms. According to Cooley, over a two-week period in 1999, his flexibility system turned Torres “from being an alternate on the relay team to the fastest swimmer in America.” The secret to Torres’s speed, Cooley says, is that his technique not only makes her muscles more flexible but also increases their ability to shorten more completely, and when muscles shorten more completely, they produce greater power and speed. “What do race-car drivers do when they want to go faster?” Cooley asks. “They don’t spend more hours driving around the track. They increase the biomechanics of the car. And that’s what resistance flexibility is doing for Dara - increasing her biomechanics.”

The Olympic Trials are going on right now in Omaha, NE. The women’s 50-meter freestyle preliminaries take place on July 5 with the final on July 6, broadcast live on NBC.

Why are the records in swimming being

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 03, 2007

Why are the records in swimming being broken at such a great pace while those for, say, track and field are more sturdy? More time and money is available for swimming now, meaning that its participants are improving quicker…as opposed to running, which hit its time and money growth spurt awhile ago.