View Full Version : Fastest Human in the Water ?

Gareth Eckley
July 30th, 2003, 11:13 AM
I am curious as to the majority view on who is the " Fastest human in the water ? ".

More specifically on what criteria do we base it on ? I followed Ion's link to www.swimclub.co.uk and started posting on their discussion forum. I have received a very hostile reaction there.

In the UK, Mark Foster bills himself as " The fastest Human in the water ". His basis for claiming this, is that he holds the world record in the 50m Short Course freestyle event. I felt that this was not fair to Popov and Hoogie as he had never beaten them head to head in any event and that they held the World Records for 50m and 100m Freestyle.

The angry response was that Foster was the fastest as his short course 50m is faster than the 50m LC record. I feel that this is a ridiculous comparison.

Do you agree with me ? Should we base that claim on the 50m Free or the 100m Free event, LC or SC ?

I am not welcome on their site, after only 4 posts, is that a record ?

I think, after living in North America for 12 years that I now have more in common with the mindset of Canadians and Americans than the British who IMHO don't seem to want to "be the best by learning from the best !".

BTW the standard of posts and discussion is much higher over here on the USMS site.

July 30th, 2003, 11:28 AM
This is a really silly debate, but I would say that the fastest human in water is the one who has the fastest second half in a 50 meter freestyle in a 50 meter pool. That way you are eliminating the effects of a great start or great turn. Based on that criteria, I would go with Gary Hall jr (who will, BTW, win the 50 free again next year).

Gareth Eckley
July 30th, 2003, 12:27 PM
Most intelligent remark that I have had so far. Second half of the 50m LC makes sense.

Do you think I am silly or my opposition ?

Matt S
July 30th, 2003, 02:48 PM

Here we have, once again, the problem with subjective concepts like "the fastest human." Is there any way to prove conclusively that a LCM 50, a SCM 50, or the second half of a 50m is the proper way to measure "the fastest human"? (And, I have not even touched our much beloved SCY 50 here in the U.S.) Absolutely not! Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion (and I have noticed a tendency to first decide who one prefers to be the winner, then pick the criteria to match that result, but hey, I'm just a cynical lawyer. You can't expect much better from me...)

However, I am fairly impressed, in a non-complimentary way, at the refusal of your countrymen to even consider whether an LCM 50 or LCM 100 could be a valid measurement. (Also, since I am a distance snob, and I think all sprinters are inherently suspect, I do care much one way or the other how they pick any particular event to settle things. Poetic justice, considering they have SO FLAMING MANY sprint [100 meters or less] events and relays to pick from.)


July 30th, 2003, 03:37 PM
Originally posted by Gareth Eckley
His basis for claiming this, is that he holds the world record in the 50m Short Course freestyle event.

Hmmm... I would nominate those kids in Virginia. As far as I know, they are the fastest (and only?) swimmers in a 49.99m pool! :p

Pardon me, but I think I will see Swimming Pool, the number 1 ranked drama movie (that begins with the letter S and has two words in the title).

Gareth Eckley
July 30th, 2003, 03:50 PM
I was able to win my argument thanks to the nice guys at 'swiminfo'. They have a nifty time conversion table which i used to get an accurate comparison. Here is that info:

"I have done the time conversions from short course to long course using the web page: http://www.swiminfo.com/results/conversions.asp

These convert Popovs 50m LC world record time from 21.64 seconds to it's short course equivalent of 21.01 seconds.

Fosters 50m short course world record time converts from 21.13 seconds to it's long course equivalent of 21.76 seconds.

Who is fastest ?

The link to Mark Fosters info on his training is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sportacademy/...000/3078131.stm

This was in the Telegraph: " Foster holds the short-course record (for events held in 25m pools) with the 21.13sec he clocked in Paris two years ago. However, the 50m long-course record is the one everybody defers to, and that continues to elude him. His best is 22.32, compared with Alexander Popov's world mark of 21.64." This link is: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/ma...10/sofost10.xml "

Anyway now I can go to sleep tonight happy !

Ion Beza
July 30th, 2003, 10:35 PM
Gareth, I read the discussion in www.swimclub.co.uk about Foster (GBR.) claiming to be the fastest human in water.

.) It is a flawed claim by Foster.

The conditions play a role on who is fastest:

(50 yards is about 45 meters, so one would slow down as the distance increases from 45 meters to 50 meters)

1) in a 25 yards pool, Tom Jager (U.S.) in 1990 and Anthony Ervin (U.S.) in 2002, both clocked 19.05 for the 50 yards free, which computes to the greatest speed recorded by humans in water at 8.640 kilometers/hour;

2) in a 25 meters pool, Mark Foster (GBR.) clocked in 2001 a 21.13 for the 50 meter free, which computes to 8.518 kilometers/hour;

3) in a 50 meters pool, Alex. Popov (Rus.) clocked in 2000 a 21.64 for the 50 meter free, which computes to 8.317 kilometers/hour;

4) when Matt Biondi (U.S.) recorded the second fastest 50 meter free in history at that time -1990- at 21.85, playing water-polo for Berkeley was keeping Biondi not racing for the ball in the 12 yards sprint at the beginning of each period, because on 12 yards sprints there was someone at Berkeley faster than Biondi.

12 yards, 25 yards, 25 meters and 50 meters bring different competitive conditions, so one wouldn't mix them altogether, but keep them apart.

Popov and Ervin race little in a 25 meters pool, Jager and others not at all.

Popov, Foster and most of the world, don't race in yards.

So, Foster's claim to be the fastest human is valid in 25 meters pools only.
Which is to say it is valid by default only, since the 25 meter is not standard.

All of the world races under the same standard conditions, the 50 meters pools.
In swimming, 50 is the smallest racing distance, so 50 is the event of the highest speed.

Under the only existing universal conditions, Popov is the fastest human in the water, when he swam the 50 free in a 50 meter pool in a world record.

.) Bill Pilczuk (U.S.) the new coach in Swansea, U.K., is like Mark Foster a dedicated 50 meter free sprinter;
Pilczuk sprints 50 meter free without breathing, and he claims that in the 100 meter free, breathing is throwing him off;
I think his best Long Course 50 free is 22.29, and 100 free is 52.xx;
he was working hard and long hours at improving his sprinting;
he progressed from being a freshman walk-on in the Auburn' swimming program, to being a world champion in 50 free in 1998;

.) "I am not welcome on their site, after only 4 posts, is that a record?"

I don't know.

I wasn't welcome here either, after a few posts.
Two years ago.
I was bragging about how my racing times were exceptional for someone who first swam in public at age 25 and joined a swimming club for the first time at 28.
(I am 44 now, and still bragging).
Exceptional times, because they were and are done without benefit from developing a swimming specific VO2Max as a growing teenager.
Unlike the champion swimmers in my USMS age group.
They are ex age-group swimmers, who developed then at its most possible potential, the swimming VO2Max.

I would say that your 4 posts and my number of posts from then, they are comparable, I guess...

.) "BTW the standard of posting and discussion is much higher over here on the USMS site."

It is ignorant, conservative, slow and boring here oftentimes.

I post in order to change this a little bit.

July 30th, 2003, 11:25 PM
Yikes, someone out swam Blondi at 12 yards in water polo. Contraty to what someone said not all water polo palyers are the fastest swimmers. Case in point Randy Kalbus, a pre-national level swimmer and a national level water polo player. Jamie Bergerson, a fair swimmer he swam a 100 yard breaststoke around 14 years old at 1:13 and went on to swim the US water Polo team in 1984. I know what he did as a kid since I was once on the same age group team as he was.

July 31st, 2003, 11:51 AM
A water polo sprint does not start with a dive,but with a floating start (no dive, push off the bottom or off a wall), Biondi did have a great dive start so maybe he wasn't able to accelerate as quickly from a standstill float (this skill is usually someone who is a sprinter but also has a strong breast or whip kick).

July 31st, 2003, 03:03 PM

I beleive that Roland Shoeman has the fastest 50 y freestyle ever, swam in Austin Dec 2000. I think it was 19.01 I went to UT's website, they don't list pool records though. Can anyone confirm or deny this?!?

Matt S
July 31st, 2003, 06:01 PM
Lefty: you are close. Schoeman is #2 all time at 19.07. However, Tom Jager is #1 at 19.05. See http://www.swiminfo.com/results/All_Time_SCY.asp#men50Free

Ion: I agree with you. Picking a SCM time is, in my subjective opinion, not the most valid measurement for recognizing someone as "the World's Fastest Human." If the measure is purely velocity, regardless of distance or format, then Jager's 19.05 is the best, footnote to your computations. (I assume we do not have enough confidence in our timing of a 12 meter sprint to a floating water polo ball to seriously consider that format.) If it's the highest velocity in the most commonly accepted format, then I think you have to make 50 LCM the universal standard, and that means Popov.

However, what exactly is the significance of "World's Fastest Human"? That is basically a headline for airhead sports announcers who do not know enough about swimming to have an observation that might be more insightful. Spare me the People Magazine, MTV, 15 second sound bite on my favorite sport. Take the time to say something substantive about world or nationals records, or major championships, and I'll listen to you.


August 13th, 2003, 08:21 AM
Just a comment about water polo. Having used to play this game in the 1970s in the UK, the starting sprint to get to the ball was generally, not a precise art - certainly not when you compare it alongside 'normal' swimming rules.

There were times when I used to have the benefit of pushing from a wall ... at other times, you might well start from a floating position. Again, the ball used to be dropped or lightly thrown into the water at the midpoint between each goal. Consequently, given the potential room for error I would say that it would be extremely difficult to compare such swim times alongside gala times with electronic timing etc.

Ion - you do like banging on about your start at age 25 don't you? I thought this whole debate had been 'done to death' months ago.
We have an expression in the UK which goes 'empty vessels make the most noise.' Wonder if you're familiar with this?

August 13th, 2003, 11:15 AM

It is true about what you said in regards to water polo starts, but slowly the sport has become more universal / uniform starting with international and slowly trickling down to college, then to High school. In the 80's (when Biondi played for Cal) all the PAC10 schools and most of the west coast schools were playing their games in full polo tanks - meaning all deep water and no walls. While coaching High School in the early nineties I noticed a progression where games were arranged to be played in pools other than the host school if the host school had a shallow end or maybe the pool wasn't big enough. I think fewer and fewer games are being played in pools were players get the wall to start their sprints because of this trickling down of uniformity in the sport. Swimming has seen the same thing in regards to starts and turns, I remember not to long ago the backstroke flip turn was ground for disqualifying in HIgh School but was acceptable in USA swimming.

Ion Beza
August 13th, 2003, 12:21 PM
Originally posted by alexknibbs

Ion - you do like banging on about your start at age 25 don't you? I thought this whole debate had been 'done to death' months ago.
We have an expression in the UK which goes 'empty vessels make the most noise.' Wonder if you're familiar with this?

Not when it is an achievement.

Compared to what I see.

The achievement makes me:

not an anybody.