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ALM
April 9th, 2014, 10:24 PM
I was explaining how to read a heat sheet to someone. English is his second language. He asked, "Why is it called a "heat?" I didn't have an answer, other than that's the term that is also used in track and field.

But it got me wondering, why is it called a "heat?" It doesn't really make sense when you think of the more common definition of the word, which has to do with temperature.

One online dictionary has 20 different definitions for the noun "heat." One of the definitions is:

Sports.
a. a single course in or division of a race or other contest.
b. a race or other contest in which competitors attempt to qualify for entry in the final race or contest.

Then I searched an etymology dictionary, and found this (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=heat):

Meaning "a single course in a race," especially a horse race, is from 1660s, perhaps from earlier figurative sense of "violent action; a single intense effort" (late 14c.), or meaning "run given to a horse to prepare for a race" (1570s). This later expanded to "division of a race or contest when there are too many contestants to run at once," the winners of each heat then competing in a final race.

philoswimmer
April 10th, 2014, 01:30 AM
There is also the expression "dead heat," i.e., a tie. Maybe heats are more likely to produce dead heats, which tend to be pretty hot and heavy. (Yes, I am just guessing wildly).

Sojerz
April 10th, 2014, 10:02 AM
When my middle son started competitive swimming (about 7ish), he called them "heaps." A more apt title, I think :), and a tradition I have continued.

Swimosaur
April 10th, 2014, 10:13 AM
... why is it called a "heat?" It doesn't really make sense when you think of the more common definition of the word, which has to do with temperature ...

Actually, it makes perfect sense ... Please suspend your disbelief starting now ... The clue is,


... Meaning "a single course in a race," especially a horse race, is from 1660s ...

When they are racing, horses get hot. So do we.

Thoroughbred racehorses produce enough heat to increase their body temperature 3.25º C to 5.42º C. (http://www.extension.org/pages/11557/equine-thermoregulation)


From a comparative standpoint, the horse (http://apex.seraonline.org/APEXpdf/McKeever-Thermoregulation.pdf) is the only species, other than man, that depends on sweating and evaporative cooling as its primary mechanism for thermoregulation (McConaghy 1994; McKeever 1998). Furthermore, equids exhibit thermoregulatory responses to heat stress that are similar to man (McConaghy 1994). During high work intensities, the rate of heat production of the horse can exceed basal levels by 40- to 60-fold (McConaghy 1994). Failure to dissipate metabolic heat can cause a continuous and excessive rise in internal body temperature (McConaghy 1994). Unfortunately, even though the horse’s athletic capacity can be considered elite among mammalian species, its ability to dissipate heat during exercise is limited due to a relatively small surface area to mass ratio (McConaghy 1994). If the excess metabolic heat generated during exercise is not dissipated, life-threatening elevations in body temperature may develop ...

Thermoregulation in horse racing is a big deal. My guess is that back in the 1660s, when this use of the word originated, it referred to the fact that horses literally get hot when they're racing ... :bolt:

:dedhorse:

Glenn
April 10th, 2014, 10:44 AM
When my middle son started competitive swimming (about 7ish), he called them "heaps." A more apt title, I think :), and a tradition I have continued.


I love "heaps", I think I'll call them that myself!

GregJS
April 10th, 2014, 10:55 AM
A footnote to Swimosaur's interesting comments on horses and "heat": Our amazing human capacity for heat dissipation allowed us to engage in "persistence hunting" where we would literally run down faster animals over long distances until they overheated. I'm guessing this has a lot to do with why we enjoy running, biking, swimming, skiing, and whatever else for long stretches at a time - a lot longer than most other animals would choose to keep moving. So yeah, in a way "heats" of races does make some sense.

knelson
April 10th, 2014, 11:56 AM
When my middle son started competitive swimming (about 7ish), he called them "heaps."

On a similar note, I've noticed a lot of people think events are "seated" rather than "seeded."

Sojerz
April 11th, 2014, 10:33 AM
A footnote to Swimosaur's interesting comments on horses and "heat": Our amazing human capacity for heat dissipation allowed us to engage in "persistence hunting" where we would literally run down faster animals over long distances until they overheated. I'm guessing this has a lot to do with why we enjoy running, biking, swimming, skiing, and whatever else for long stretches at a time - a lot longer than most other animals would choose to keep moving. So yeah, in a way "heats" of races does make some sense.

I've always maintained that swimming is the best sport because our engines are water cooled (I know all old VW owners with those 40hp air cooled engines will disagree); only swimmers can lay-down smoke on the water.:D

orca1946
April 11th, 2014, 02:31 PM
Now you have me singing "Smoke on the water"