tisdag 12 augusti 2008

Competitive Swimming

Take a look at the swimmers on the Olympic starting blocks. The men are typically about 6ft 5in (2M) tall. This is, for example, the average height of the US Olympic team members, the shortest of whom is one dwarf who is a mere 1.84M tall. I don't know what this is as a percentile of the human population but it must be less than about 2%.

This is entirely predictable according to the laws of hydrodynamics. Whether competitive sport is worth while at all is a question that ought to be questioned more. Is it a good thing for young people to spend some of the best years of their lives churning up and down a swimming pools? That aside, competitive swimming, as presently ordered, is comparable to putting heavyweight boxers in the same ring as featherweights. They have not got a chance. However well anyone trains and develops their technique, they are not going to get anywhere if they are not tall enough. Height is mostly a matter of genetics. And the issue comes into focus even more sharply with juniors. Fast developers do best - a mixture of ten year old children can range from 1.2 to 1.6 metres in height, and the small ones are going to be discouraged and drop out. If anyone does not have two tall parents, they should not even think about competitive swimming.

I doubt if this is what the authorities in charge of the sport actually want, but equally, I doubt if they have given the matter much thought.

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