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Practical Olympic Swimming

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I've been watching footage from the recent Beijing Olympics on TV lately, and frankly, I'm appalled at the lack of any relevance of the swimming events. No practicality at all. They have many events requiring mastery of different stroke styles, but what's the point? It's a race! The objective is to get from one point to another in the shortest time. Why does the stroke style matter at all? Runners don't have to master different gaits, why should swimmers? What makes more sense is to have different water conditions in each event. Swimming in salt water vs swimming in fresh water. Swimming against a current, at varying current speeds. Swimming through a cross-current, at varying speeds. Swimming over an undertow. Swimming in varying wave conditions. Let the swimmers choose their own stroke pattern, just change the conditions. Given today's technology such conditions are easy to simulate. More realistic, more demanding, and more competitive.
21 Quest, Aug 09 2009

Very similar idea http://www.halfbake...reestyle_20swimming
[hippo, Aug 10 2009]

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       This reminds me of those "remove all rules from Formula 1 racing" ideas. The limitations bring out the art [-].
  

       I question how swimming through flat water is impractical. Freestyle is already an optimal stroke for most conditions, but the other strokes do have practical uses: breaststroke is most efficient when one wants to take long breaths to rest or needs to swim a long way underwater, backstroke is best for looking at the sky, and butterfly is best for impressing people.
  

       There have been a few developments in swimming stroke over the years (the butterfly was first recognized in 1933).
  

       Swimming is no longer a practical need for most people, and I expect practical competitions (ie lifeguarding or ocean survival) would be less exciting than current swimming activities.
  

       If you're bored, watch water polo.
sninctown, Aug 09 2009
  

       //Runners don't have to master different gaits,//
They don't?
How do they get over the hurdles?
What about the walking race? [-]
coprocephalous, Aug 10 2009
  

       Jumping over a hurdle is not a gait, and the runner is free to jump however he/she likes. For instance, the runner can jump it with both feet forward, with the left foot forward, or with the right foot forward. And, to my knowledge, the race walk is a long-distance event, and is not running, so what's your point? Besides, it's not a very well-respected sport, anyway. Kinda like curling in that regard. Don't even get me started on that...
21 Quest, Aug 10 2009
  

       My point is that most, if not all sports are pointless, apart possibly from the javelin or shooting.
Curling is an Olympic sport, but golf (to the best of my knowledge) is not.
Why is that?
They're both equally dull.
Just don't get me started on synchronised swimming.

The idea may just as well be "Make all sports the Modern Pentathlon".
coprocephalous, Aug 10 2009
  

       //I've been watching footage from the recent Beijing Olympics on TV lately// - very slow TV reception you get where you live...
hippo, Aug 10 2009
  

       Swimming upstream in glacial melt water, like salmon. I'd like to see that.
ldischler, Aug 10 2009
  

       I don't think the spawning would be suitable for daytime TV though.
shudderprose, Aug 10 2009
  

       You're turning swimming into a horse racing steeplechase.
Ian Tindale, Aug 10 2009
  

       The spawning would open up a lot of pay-per-view opportunities.
normzone, Aug 10 2009
  

       Climbing up a waterfall is a definite possibility for an Olympic sport all its own. Hell, climbing in general should be an Olympic event.
21 Quest, Aug 10 2009
  
      
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