Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Swimming the Atlantic

I learned today that Google Maps provides transatlantic driving directions. For example, if you choose to drive from Washington, DC to London, England, Google suggests driving to Boston. You navigate to downtown Boston and then:

20. Turn right at Long Wharf 0.1 mi
21. Swim across the Atlantic Ocean 3,462 miles

and then continue on through northern France, through the Chunnel and on to London. The whole trip will take 29 days, 14 hours.

Because I'm a geek, I wanted to know how fast I'd have to swim to achieve this. I've never considered swimming across an entire ocean before. Isolating this route to just the departure and arrival points for the swim (Boston to Le Havre, France), Google says it takes about 29 days.

Next pull up the handy unix/linux tool called units. It does all sorts of conversions, even converting such things as speeds.

You have: 3462 miles/29 days
You want: mph
        * 4.9741379
        / 0.20103986

That's almost five miles per hour. That sounds pretty fast. Is it reasonable? Ask wikipedia. The current world record for swimming 1500 m is 14:34.56.

You have: 1500 m / (14 min + 34.56 sec)
You want: mph
        * 3.8366772
        / 0.2606422

That's 3.8 miles per hour. So, even record holder Grant Hackett at his peak 5.5 years ago, couldn't swim across the Atlantic in 29 days even if he were to swim at his world record pace for 24 hours per day.

Update: Geoff Fox blogged about this also. In fact, Geoff's post was probably the origin of how I found out about this since the original link that was sent to me came from a relative who reads Geoff's blog.

1 comment:

dmaclach said...

With fins you come a bit closer (4.42 MPH) assuming that fins increase your speed by about 0.2m/s.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12151372&dopt=Abstract