Social Science blog

03 February 2011

A welcome return

Great news that Australian record-breaking swimmer Ian Thorpe (‘the Thorpedo’) is coming out of retirement and hopes to compete in the London 2012 games. He has always been a favourite of mine, with his fabulous swimming technique and sheer grace in the water. Watching swimming on the TV has been enormously enhanced by the underwater shots available nowadays, because you can really see how the swimmers move and breathe, the shapes they’re making in the water, the accuracy of their turns. For those of us who are trying to improve our strokes, it’s as good as a master class! Youtube takes a detailed look at Thorpe doing the crawl here:

 I blogged a few months ago about the equally amazing American swimmer Michael Phelps and his diet as revealed by the media. This proved to be an astonishing list of calorific foods, and it occurred to me to check out Ian’s take on it. And it’s completely different: super healthy and very close to the ideal nutritional recipe one would imagine elites would follow. Again, the BBC elucidates.

 The physical demands on Olympic swimmers (as on all elites) are huge, especially in the early years when junior athletes are often forced to travel long distances to train in Olympic-sized pools. The competition is also super-intense, with all the stresses and strains that this imposes. One of the most interesting books I’ve read about this is Gold in the water, by P H Mullen, a book published in America (which I’ve just asked the American curator to try to get for the BL). It really gives you an idea about the intensity of training required and the climate of competition in this hotly contested area.

 Thorpe, Ian, Ian Thorpe: the journey Sydney: Pan Macmillan, 2000.

London reference collections shelfmark: LB.31.a.9561

 Hunter, Greg, Ian Thorpe: the biography Sydney: Macmillan, 2004.

London reference collections shelfmark: YD.2007.a.9167






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