INWIT THE SCIENCE OF THE SUMMER GAMES
Publications in Science and Mathematics, Computing and the Humanities
Museum Development, Educational Curricula, and Science Fair Initiatives
Educational Toys and Technology
The Science of the Summer Games
Vincent P. Mallette
Rockland, MA: Charles River Media, Inc., 1996
This fascinating book explores the science behind the sports in the summer Olympic Games. Originally commissioned by the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, it will provide readers of all ages with scientific and historical facts as well as interesting anecdotes about our
most popular sports. Especially suitable as companion reading for sports-science courses. Lavishly footnoted.
Events covered: History of the Olympics * Basketball * Long runs * Boxing * Shot put * Cycling * Sprint runs * Discus throw * Swimming * Gymnastics * Water
polo * Hammer throw * Diving * Tennis * Javelin throw * Jumps * Pentathlon * Pole vault * Baseball * Fencing * Wrestling * Equestrian * Canoeing * Soccer *
With an Afterword on Drugs and the Olympics
Excerpted in Popular Science
AUDIENCE: Middle school to adult professional
Miscellaneous Reviews of the The Science of the Summer Games
* "In Science of the Summer Games Vincent P. Mallette has put together an informative and witty mix of Olympic history, sports trivia, and accurate science.
Any fan of the Olympic Games will learn a great deal from this entertaining book, as I did." Peter Brancazio, author of the acclaimed book
SportScience. (Dr. Brancazio has used chapters from Science of the Summer Games in his sport science course.)
* "Vincent Mallette is that rare thing in science: a popularizer in the best sense of the word...a genius for the perfect fact or anecdote. [He has] the
ability to make complex concepts accessible to untutored minds and he dishes it all up with an elegant style and a wicked sense of humor." Tamara
Glenny, chief editor, Time Machine, the American history magazine for kids
* "I read Vincent Mallette's work Science of the Summer Games with great delight. Full of unusual historical and scientific anecdotes, Mallette's work
offers amusing and illuminating insights...." Alanna Rittich, Olympic researcher for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
"In a bright style honed by years of popularizing complex scientific principles for the general public, Mallette explains [these concepts] in layman's
language..." Hoyt Coffee, Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine
The Science of the Summer Games
Have you ever wondered...
In basketball, is it better to "rifle" the ball toward the basket in a low trajectory, or throw it upward in a high arch like a mortar shell?
In swimming, does shaving off the body hair improve your time?
Can you take advantage of the Coriolis force and gain extra distance by throwing a discus to the east?
Did Mexico City's thinner air make a difference in the long jump?
You'll find the answers to these and many other questions in The Science of the Summer Games.
This book on the Summer Games is being offered exclusively through Charles River Media, Inc. of Rockland, MA.
It's author, Vincent Mallette, is a former research scientist at Ga. Tech and a well-known popularizer of science. He lives in Atlanta, the home of the
1996 Olympics. This book was initially commissioned by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Learning to control the high-arch mortar shot will give you seven times the margin of error of a rifled shot. Shaving the body hair can be expected to shave
a second off a swimmer's 100 meters. A well-thrown discus in tropic latitudes will go an inch farther eastward than westward. The 23% thinner air in Mexico
City may have given Bob Beamon more than 7 extra inches in his immortal long jump.]
[a chapter from Science of the Summer Games, © 1996 Charles River Media, Inc. All rights reserved.]
After Einstein moved to the United States, he often went boating alone on Lake Saranac but he didn't know how to swim!
A unique thing about the Olympics is that they embrace both the most efficient and the least efficient forms of human locomotion bicycling and
swimming, respectively. Bicycling we shall take up later, but as for swimming, a top athlete doing the freestyle stroke (the fastest) is putting out over a
thousand watts of power and roaring down the lane at a pitiful four miles per hour (7 kph)! Ironically, swimming can be the most energy-efficient
form of travel for a fish. But fish can do things in the water that human athletes can only dream of such as sensing turbulence and tailoring
their bodies to defeat it, or changing their buoyancy from second to second. And some sharks can increase the stiffness of their skins by a factor of 10, to
get better muscle coupling to the water try that the next time you're in the pool.
Organized swimming hardly existed until the nineteenth century, although the Japanese did have competitive swimming as far back as 36 B.C. During the Middle
Ages Europeans swam very little the feeling was that water spread disease, and should be avoided (for washing too!). And when Europeans did swim,
they used amazingly inefficient strokes. "Primitive" peoples of the Americas and the South Pacific did much better some Native Americans were taken
to London in 1844 and outswam all comers. These native peoples were using variants of the crawl stroke, now known to be the fastest way to swim.
Swimming, although required in Greek and Roman military training, was never a feature of the ancient Olympics. However, swimming has been a part of the
modern Olympics from the very first, in 1896 (women's events were added later, starting in 1912). In fact, today the swimming events are the second-largest
category of competition in the summer Olympics, after track-and-field.
Swimming in General
Fish have been clocked at 68 mph (109 kph) (as fast as a cheetah can run), but the amazing thing is not the absolute speed of marine animals, but how little
energy they need to achieve their fantastic velocities. In fact, fish, dolphins, whales, etc. all swim faster than the "horsepower" of their bodies should
entitle them to. A 100-ton (91,000 kilogram) blue whale, cruising at 20 mph (32 kph), should require some 448 horsepower, but in fact gets by with 60-70.
A dolphin uses only about one-eighth the power that simple physics says it should. At night, in water full of flow-betraying bioluminescent organisms, there
is no turbulence in the wake of a dolphin. "Active" streamlining avoiding turbulent flow before it can start has got to be a large part of
this economy, but even when all the tricks are factored in, there is some mystery remaining in the animal's performance.
In the water, drag is everything. The human being, air adapted for 200 million years, struggles clumsily now in a fatal honey 773 times denser and 55 times
more viscous than air. Every motion is bought at a terrible cost in energy. Resistance and power go up by squares and cubes. To double speed in the water
requires eight times the power output completely impossible. Just to increase your swimming speed by 10% calls for a 33% step-up in the power you
exert. On land, runners have outpaced horses, but in the water the lowliest guppy can show his tail to the fastest human who ever lived. So what is a poor
human to do? Well, we compete only against our own kind.
Water makes it difficult to swim, but water also makes it possible to swim. (We cannot, after all, swim in air.) Ultimately, the propulsive force in
swimming comes from our muscular effort against the resistance of the water. It used to be taught, however, that movement in swimming was a simple result of
action-reaction (Newton's third law): we pull on a chunk of water and it pushes directly back on us. It is now accepted that a sculling or s-type movement
in swimming is more effective than a straight pull, for the same reason that propellers are better than paddle-wheels. James Counsilman, the hugely
successful Indiana University swimming coach, wrote, "Although a swimmer may swim in an almost straight line, his movements to accomplish this are all
circular or rotary...." World-class swimmers used to try to root out the s-curve from their strokes, but "it kept winning races," and now the s-curve is
The Strokes of Olympic Swimming
In the case of man the power of swimming is acquired, not natural. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1887
Man is a quadruped in the water, and just as a horse can trot, canter, or gallop, so a human being can swim with different combinations of arm, head, and leg
action, conventionally called the strokes of swimming. (The descriptions given here are from a scientific and comparative standpoint: no one should try to
learn how to swim from this book!)
Although the Egyptians had a hieroglyph for "swimming" in 2500 B.C., little is known of the exact strokes that swimmers used before the 19th century.
Today in Olympic competition men and women swim four strokes: the freestyle (which in practice means "the crawl"), the butterfly, the backstroke, and the
breaststroke. All but the freestyle are rigidly defined, and swimmers will be disqualified if they are seen to deviate from the rules. Men swam the
freestyle all the way back to 1896. The backstroke was added in 1904, and the breaststroke in 1908. The newest stroke, the butterfly, was actually a
spin-off of the breaststroke: "In the early 1930s some U.S. swimmers discovered a 'loophole' in the rules [for the breaststroke] and began bringing their
arms back above the surface of the water, which saved precious time and energy. In 1952, this new technique, known as the butterfly, was officially
recognized as the fourth Olympic swimming style...."*
Women made their Olympic swimming debut in 1912, in the freestyle. In 1924 they were given backstroke and breaststroke events. Finally, in 1956, they
joined the men in the butterfly, and the Olympic panoply was complete.
Indeed, water events gave women their first Olympic opportunities ever. Sixteen years before women were allowed to do Olympic gymnastics or track-and-field,
they competed in swimming and diving. Today women swim much the same program as men. (Women do not do water polo and men do not do synchronized swimming.)
The crawl is the fastest of the strokes (hence is the stroke of choice in freestyle). If the crawl is given an arbitrary speed rating of 100%, the other
strokes have averaged, in the last 20 years: butterfly, 93%; backstroke, 89%; and breaststroke, 79%. Curiously, the crawl is never the discovery of a
technological civilization; it is always found by untutored peoples. In the 1870's J. Arthur Trudgen saw some South American Indians using a very effective
overhand stroke; he introduced this to England and, when Richard Cavill added a flutter kick, "the modern 'Australian crawl' was born." Trudgen's speed for
his time was so great that swimmers everywhere copied his style. By 1922, when Johnny Weissmuller burst upon the swimming world, a fairly modern version of
the crawl had been obligatory for speed swimmers for two decades.
Weissmuller made four refinements in the crawl stroke, improving the action of all the main body elements, arm, head, and leg. Using "his" stroke,
Weissmuller captured nearly all the sprint swimming golds in the 1928 Olympics. The Japanese, who had never won an individual medal in Olympic swimming,
made a pioneering use of slow-motion underwater movies to closely analyze Johnny's style. Come 1932 in Los Angeles, the Americans found themselves competing
against "Japanese Weissmullers." Superbly conditioned, and swimming the best strokes in the world, the Japanese athletes won every swimming event except one.
Although the Japanese domination didn't last the U. S. team regained much lost ground in Berlin in '36 the Japanese showed 17 years later that
they could innovate as well as copy. In the summer of 1949, at a meet in the U. S., the Japanese sprint swimmer Hironashin Furuhashi unleashed what seemed
to be a minor refinement of the kick in the crawl stroke, but it led him and the other Japanese to sweeping victories. Actually, this secret weapon was
something that American coaches had been experimenting with for some time but hadn't implemented shorting two beats in the six-beat flutter kick, thus
reducing "the parasitic drag of the legs during the arm pull." The legs, you see, are a hidden problem in swimming. Experts estimate that as little as 15%
of the propulsive force in the fastest strokes comes from the legs. The relative unimportance of the legs is shown by the fact that completely legless
people have swum well one legless man swam 147 miles (236 km) from Albany to New York City. Still, a good leg action makes for a winning swim: the
introduction of the flutter kick in 1902 "established a new era in speed swimming."
The breaststroke is the most rigidly defined of the Olympic styles; athletes must adhere to six rules, specifying everything from the permissible kick (the
frog "backward and out") to the position of the shoulders ("in line with the water"). Half a dozen men were disqualified in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics
because of disputes over the breaststroke rules. Rule Six was added in 1957 to counter underwater swimming the "invisible man," Masaru Furukawa of
Japan, had set an Olympic record in the breaststroke in 1956 by swimming underwater 75% of the time! After underwater swimming was banned, world
record times in the breaststroke worsened overnight by some 3 seconds. (Underwater swimming was once an event in its own right; held only one time, in the
Paris Olympics of 1900, the contest awarded "two points ... for each meter swum and one point for each second that the swimmer was able to stay under water.")
The newest of the strokes, the butterfly, was not separated from the breaststroke until the 1956 Olympics. Until then, competitors in the "breaststroke"
often swam the butterfly. For example, all the medalists in the 200-meter breaststroke in the 1948 Olympics used what was in fact a butterfly. Butterfly
practitioners are held to most of the breaststroke rules, but must return their arms "over the water," and kick their legs simultaneously in a dolphin-like
The backstroke is surprisingly effective and is often the first complete stroke taught to beginners. The armed forces promoted this restful stroke for
survival swimming in World War II. Fred Lanoue, the "drownproofing" doyen of Georgia Tech, featured a modified backstroke in his gallery of highly effective
lifesaving strokes. The survival backstroke uses an "inverted breaststroke kick." The competitive backstroke, by contrast, almost always uses the six-beat
flutter kick. In its racing form, the backstroke was invented about 1912, but was substantially improved by a Chicago schoolboy in 1935. (As in the
breaststroke, underwater swimming is also now banned in the backstroke.)
There is no question that some strokes are more difficult to do than others. Paul Tsongas, the erstwhile Presidential candidate, chose to emphasize his
fitness by swimming the butterfly in his TV campaign commercials, because, in Tsongas' words, "The butterfly is something you know you cannot do. ...The
butterfly is a political statement."
Any of the strokes can have their efficiencies greatly enhanced by the use of artificial attachments flippers or fins, for example. About 1877 a man
swam 100 yards (91 meters) in 60 seconds (unheard-of for the time) with the aid of primitive wooden plates. Though not allowed except in special
competitions, such attachments point up how maladapted the human body is for swimming, and what a big difference a little "finniness" can make. One coach
even wrote, "The advantage of possessing large feet...is apparent."
Since the 1950's serious swimmers have religiously shaved the hair from their bodies, sometimes even from their heads, before an important meet. Yet until
very recently there has been no scientific evidence as to the usefulness of this slavishly observed practice. Some coaches believed that the advantage
if any was psychological. Now, thanks to experiments performed by the aptly named Dr. Rick Sharp in 1988 and 1989, it is known that shaving body hair
does in fact give the swimmer an advantage, by reducing drag. How much of an advantage? Nearly as much as that "resulting from a season of collegiate
swimming training." Or, to put a number on it, about a second per 100 meters.
Another potential source of drag might be easily dispensed with physically but not socially: in Holland in 1975 it was found that Dutch girls could reduce
their drag in the water by 9% by shedding their swimsuits. Today, however, it is felt that the form-fitting, very smooth "Speedo"O-type synthetic
suits worn by most athletes contribute no appreciable drag, and may even speed up progress in the water (see Note 45.) Jon Henricks, the Australian champion,
was on the right track when he wore a silk swimsuit in 1952. Nylon and Lycra have replaced silk, but some of the state-of-the-art coated suits are so
delicate that they must be put on wet, and are only good for about 400 meters.
Part of the surface drag encountered by swimmers is due to rough water: in a word, waves. Obviously, some wavemaking is inevitable in vigorous swimming, but
in modern pools the effect is reduced in two ways: by contoured "gutters" around the edges of the pool, which damp out wave action, and by dividing the
competition lanes with finlike disks or perforated floating cylinders. The net result is a "faster" pool. Wave-killing devices (and soft water) in the
ultra-modern Schwimmhalle in Munich were "the largely unrecognized reason why nearly every event in the 1972 Olympics produced a new world's record."
The viscosity of water goes down about 12% for every 10 Fahrenheit degrees (5.6 Celsius degrees) you go up in temperature. But before you envision world
records set in your hot tub, keep in mind that the only stroke you're likely to swim in water much above 85°F (29.4°C) is the heatstroke! In any case,
competition pools worldwide are now kept between 78 and 80°F (25.6 and 26.7°C). By contrast, the first Olympic swimming events were held in the sea; the
water temperature was 55°F (12.8°C). The athletes complained, but not of the viscosity.
Serious swimmers have been known to "hyperventilate" overbreathe for a few seconds before very short events, such as the 50-meters. The idea
is to complete the whole race without taking a single breath, and disturbing the stroke mechanics. The practice can be easily overdone, and lead to
dizziness or even blackouts. At the other extreme, some top-flight swimmers try to accustom themselves to as little oxygen as possible so-called
hypoxic training, in which they "drop" a breath or two from a regular stroking routine, then go back to normal breathing for the big meet. Similar practices
have been used in running events. Beware a big difference though: passing out in running can be a nuisance, but passing out in swimming can be fatal!
The "taper" is a philosophy of training related to "peaking." The idea is that you taper off on your workouts three weeks or so before a crucial meet; this
is thought to give the biggest peak when the meet comes. World-class swimmers may "taper" two or three times a year. If for any reason your performance is
disappointing, you say you "missed your taper."
Big feet are nice, but a big heart is best: there have been studies as to the size of swimmers' hearts. "In nearly every case, the better type swimmer had a
"The domination of international swimming by East German women for nearly two decades was built upon an organized system of anabolic-steroid use, a group of
20 former East German coaches confirmed Monday." This news item, featured in the New York Times for Dec. 3, 1991, casts a pall over the achievements of the
golden age East German women, who "won nearly every time they competed." The athletes involved who were not named would lose their medals only
if they admitted their guilt, under International Olympic Committee policy.
The Future of Swimming
Improvements in swimming performance, as in other sports, come in...well, waves. In the 30 years prior to 1894, the swimming time for 100 yards (91 meters)
was cut by 25 seconds. In 1972 Mark Spitz's seven gold-medal times seemed at the limits of human ability, yet in 1984 they "wouldn't even have qualified him
for the...U.S. team tryouts." The improvements, both in Victorian times and in the 1970's, were largely the result of concentrating on stroke mechanics.
But in Victorian times it was "what do I do with what when"; in post-Spitz times the emphasis was hydrodynamic. Some of the best modern hydrodynamic
analyses have been made by Robert Schleihauf and Ernest Maglischo. Their results are technical and scientific, but Schleihauf's emphasis on the "pitch"
(the angle) of the hand is worth mentioning. Schleihauf's recommendations trimmed as much as five seconds off a swimmer's former best in the 100 yards (91
meters)(such races are typically won by 1/2 to xxx sec.). And it is largely to Maglischo that we owe the rehabilitation of the potent s-curve in stroking.
Subtleties of training produce further improvements: glycogen and lactic acid monitoring may quantify the "peak" and "taper." Computer and video analyses of
the athlete's whole body bring all the elements together, but swimming is now a mature art and "diminishing returns" has set in. (There is no such formal
scientific law as diminishing returns, but anyone who has polished a shoe knows the effect.) Genetic engineering could, however, come to our aid; radical
rearrangements of the human DNA might in time produce the perfect swimmer:
A Unique Thing...
1. "Bicycle Technology," by S. S. Wilson, Scientific American, March 1973, p. 90, illustration caption.
2. A very conservative figure for a short swim event. Even a golfer puts out about 2.5 kilowatts: Philip Morrison's review of Learn Science Through Ball
Games by C. B. Daish (New York: Sterling, 1972), in: Scientific American, April 1973, p. 121. Jumping and sprint running dissipate in excess of 2000
and 3000 watts: Physics, with Applications in Life Sciences by G. K. Strother (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977), p. 65; Sport Science
by Peter J. Brancazio (New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1984), table 5.2 (converted from kilocalories/hr to watts).
3. "Swimming is energetically the least costly means of getting around [for lifeforms that live in the water]": Philip Morrison's book review of How Animals
Work by Knut Schmidt-Nielsen (Cambridge University Press), in: Scientific American, Oct. 1972, p. 122
4. "How Fishes Swim" by Sir James Gray, in: Animal Engineering: Readings from Scientific American (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1974), p. 35.
5. "Shark Skin: Function in Locomotion" by S. A. Wainwright, F. Vosburgh, and J. H. Hebrank, Science, November 17, 1978, p. 747
6. The Guinness Book of World Records 1991 edited by Donald McFarlan (New York: Bantam Books, 1991), p. 735
7. Encyclopedia Americana (Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1985), Vol. 26, p. 131.
8. Academic American Encyclopedia (Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1990), vol. 18, p. 390. It is somewhat curious that all the ancient Olympic
events were "dry land," because the Greeks were so serious about swimming that their phrase for "The Three R's" of education was "The alphabet and swimming":
Sport in Greece and Rome by H. A. Harris (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1972), p. (112)
Swimming in General
9. The Guinness Book of World Records 1991 edited by Donald McFarlan (New York: Bantam Books, 1991), p. 90
10. "How Fishes Swim" by Sir James Gray, in: Animal Engineering: Readings from Scientific American (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1974), p. 34
11. "At night...wake of a dolphin": On Growth and Form, abridged edition by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson. Abridged edition edited by J. T. Bonner
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), p. 32
12. The human line being from mammals, which began as dry-land animals some 200 million years ago.
13. Water is of course very close to 1000 grams per liter, and air at the same temperature (0 C) is 1.2929 grams per liter; the viscosity of water at 20 C is
1.0020 millipascal-seconds and air at the same temperature is 18.2 micropascal-seconds. These viscosity values from Tables of Physical and Chemical
Constants, Fifteenth Edition ["Kaye & Laby"] [New York: John Wiley (American edition), 1986], pp. 36 and 40.
I couldn't find a place to fit this into the main text, but I think the reader ought to have these density figures available: sea water at 59 F, 1.025 grams
per cubic centimeter; human body as a whole, female, 0.968; human body as a whole, male, 0.980; bone, 1.80; muscle, 1.05; fat, 0.94: Synchronized Swimming
by George Rackham (London: Faber and Faber, 1968), p. 97
14. Literally and respectively. "In 1933, Karpovich determined that water resistance encountered by the body during passive towing is proportional to the
square of velocity....": Rick L. Sharp et al, The Journal of Swimming Research 4, 9 (1988). "The velocity dependent drag force results in a drag power
proportional to the cube of the velocity.": The Dynamics of Sports, 3rd Edition by David F. Griffing (Oxford, Ohio: The Dalog Company, 1987), p. 196
15. "In December 1936, Jesse Owens beat a race horse over a hundred-yard course, and in the following September, Forrest Towns, Olympic hurdler, beat a prize
cavalry horse, trained as a running jumper, in the 120-yard hurdles...." The Natural History of Nonsense by Bergen Evans (New York: Vintage Books,
1960), p. 145. There were also Native Americans who could run down horse and deer: Scientific American, October 1969, p. 143
16. Newton at the Bat: The Science in Sports, revised edition edited by Eric W. Schrier and William R. Allman (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987), p. 142
17. Quoted in The Mechanics of Athletics, 7th Edition by Geoffrey Dyson (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1977), pp. 111-112
18. Newton at the Bat: The Science in Sports, revised edition edited by Eric W. Schrier and William R. Allman (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987), p. 141
The Strokes of Olympic Swimming
19. The Encyclopedia Britannica, Ninth Edition (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1887), Vol. 22, p. 768
20. Academic American Encyclopedia (Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1990), Vol. 18, p. 390
21. These figures are for gold-medal performances by men in the 100-meters.
22. Academic American Encyclopedia (Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1990), Vol. 18, p. 391.
Trudgen's stroke was so much faster than anything else around at the time that the rules of water polo had to be changed in 1880 to accommodate the faster
action now possible. (From a packet of materials sent to me by United States Water Polo, Inc., to whom grateful acknowledgment is made.)
23. Swimming and Diving, Fifth Edition by David A. Armbruster, Robert H. Allen, and Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (Saint Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1968), pp. 3-4
24. Academic American Encyclopedia (Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1990), Vol. 18, p. 391
25. Swimming and Diving, Fifth Edition by David A. Armbruster, Robert H. Allen, and Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (Saint Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1968), pp. 5-6
26. Ibid., p. 6
27. Ibid., p. 7
28. Ibid., p. 71
29. The People's Almanac #2 by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace (New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1978), p. 1095
30. Swimming and Diving, Fifth Edition by David A. Armbruster, Robert H. Allen, and Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (Saint Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1968), p. 4
31. The Complete Book of the Olympics, revised edition by David Wallechinsky (New York: Penguin Books, 1988), p. 440
32. Ibid., p. 441
33. Ibid., p, 464. Incidentally, no breaststroke event longer than 200 meters is currently swum in the Olympics. There used to be a 400-meter breaststroke
(last held in 1920); it was discontinued because too many swimmers nearly drowned while attempting it. In October 1991 Mike Barrowman, a 200-meter
breaststroke specialist, decided to break the jinx by swimming a 400 as an exhibition. He not only lived to tell about it, but set a world record (the old
one dated from 1912!). [Sports Illustrated 1992 Sports Almanac (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991), p. 542]
34. Ibid., p. 440
35. Swimming and Diving, 5th Edition by David A. Armbruster, Robert H. Allen, and Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (Saint Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1968), p. 27
36. Competitive Swimming Manual for Coaches and Swimmers by James E. Counsilman (Bloomington, Indiana: Counsilman Co., Inc., 1977), p. 173
37. Swimming and Diving, 5th Edition by David A. Armbruster, Robert H. Allen, and Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (Saint Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1968),
p. 118 and p. 10, respectively
38. "How Paul Tsongas (Mr. Un-Charisma) Learned to Swim in TV's Tricky Current" by Peter Ross Range, TV Guide, March 14, 1992, pp. 18-19
39. The Encyclopedia Britannica, Ninth Edition (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1887), Vol. 22, p. 771
40. Swimming and Diving, 5th Edition by David A. Armbruster, Robert H. Allen, and Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (Saint Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1968), p. 70
41. "The Effect of Shaving Body Hair on the Physiological Cost of Freestyle Swimming" by Rick L. Sharp et al, The Journal of Swimming Research 4, 9
(1988); "Influence of Body Hair Removal on Physiological Responses During Breaststroke Swimming" by Rick L. Sharp and David L. Costill, Medicine and
Science in Sports and Exercise 21, 576-580 (1989)
42. "The Effect of Shaving Body Hair on the Physiological Cost of Freestyle Swimming" by Rick L. Sharp et al, The Journal of Swimming Research 4, 9 (1988)
43. "Close Shaves: Swimmers Do Anything for an Edge" by Karen Rosen, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 9, 1992, p. C9.
Champion swimmers obviously believe in the importance of shaving; Matt Biondi speaks of his best "shaved" and "unshaved" times (this quote from a package of
material sent to me by United States Water Polo, Inc., in my possession).
44. "The Effect of Shaving Body Hair on the Physiological Cost of Freestyle Swimming" by Rick L. Sharp et al, The Journal of Swimming Research 4, 10 (1988).
45. Telephone conversation with Dr. Rick L. Sharp, exercise physiologist at Iowa State University, Feb. 21, 1992.
The topic has been in the news: Mike Barrowman, who holds the world record in the 200-meters, wears a full-body suit by SpeedoO that is "supposedly made of
a fabric that is faster than human skin in the water." "Olympic Briefing" by Karen Rosen, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 20, 1992, p. D9
46."Close Shaves: Swimmers Do Anything for an Edge" by Karen Rosen, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 9, 1992, p. C9. Jon Henricks won the gold
medal in the 100-meter freestyle in the 1956 Olympics.
47. Newton at the Bat: The Science in Sports, revised edition edited by Eric W. Schrier and William R. Allman (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,
1987), p. 141. The East German women brought Lycra to world attention when they wore the notorious "Belgrade suits" in Yugoslavia in 1973; the East Germans
ladies won 10 of 14 events, and their suits soon became commonplace.
48. Science and Sports by Robert Gardner (New York: Franklin Watts, 1988), p. 74. Also see The 50-Meter Jungle by Sherman Chavoor with Bill
Davidson (New York: Coward, McCann, Geoghegan, Inc., 1973), pp. 135-137.
49. The 50-Meter Jungle by Sherman Chavoor with Bill Davidson (New York: Coward, McCann, Geoghegan, Inc., 1973), p. 137
50. Over a limited range of course. At 68 F the viscosity of water is 1.0020 millipascal-seconds; at 78 F the viscosity is 0.8747 millipascal-seconds, a
difference of at least 12%. Data from Tables of Physical and Chemical Constants, Fifteenth Edition ["Kaye & Laby"] [New York: John Wiley (American
edition), 1986], p. 36
It's a different story for fish: if there were a fish that could swim from the tropics to the arctic, it would experience a doubling in viscosity due to
temperature ("Temperature and Water Viscosity: Physiological Versus Mechanical Effects on Suspension Feeding" by Robert D. Podolsky, Science, 1 July
1994, p. 102, footnote 3. This is for the standard salinity of "30 per mil.")
51. Sports Rules Encyclopedia, Second Edition edited by Jess R. White (Champaign, Illinois: Leisure Press, 1990), p. 536
52. The Complete Book of the Olympics, revised edition by David Wallechinsky (New York: Penguin Books, 1988), p. 424
53. Swimming and Diving, Fifth Edition by David A. Armbruster, Robert H. Allen, and Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (Saint Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1968), pp. 51-52
54. Competitive Swimming Manual for Coaches and Swimmers by James E. Counsilman (Bloomington, Indiana: Counsilman Co., Inc., 1977), pp. 89-93
55. "Close Shaves: Swimmers Do Anything for an Edge" by Karen Rosen, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 9, 1992, p. C9
56. Swimming and Diving, Fifth Edition by David A. Armbruster, Robert H. Allen, and Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (Saint Louis: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1968), p. 107
The Future of Swimming
57. Ibid., p. 2
58. Newton at the Bat: The Science in Sports, revised edition edited by Eric W. Schrier and William F. Allman (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987), p. 140
59. Robert Schleihauf in: James E. Counsilman, Competitive Swimming Manual for Coaches and Swimmers (Bloomington, Indiana: Counsilman Company, Inc., 1977),
pp. 232-247; Ernest Maglischo in: Newton at the Bat: The Science in Sports, revised edition edited by Eric W. Schrier and William F. Allman (New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987), pp. 141-142
* The Complete Book of the Olympics, revised edition by David Wallechinsky (New York: Penguin Books, 1988), p. 439
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