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Old 04-04-2005, 01:10 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Of human strength, muscle density, and swimming

Recently I saw something on the National Geographic Channel about a zoo where they have the chimpanzee exhibit on an island, and the gorillas on another island, in addition to various herbivores which roam freely around the shores of this small lake containing the two ape islands. Some of the herbivores actually swam over to the chimps' island, and the narrator said that because of the apes' muscle density, they could not swim. By the way, the chimps are seriously scary critters, jumping from a standing posture on a 12-foot high branch and landing on the ground, on their feet, like it was nothing. The 'gentle chimp' myth has long since been laid to rest--but I digress. What I'm wondering is whether exceptionally strong humans have difficulty swimming, or if some can't swim at all?

And while we're on the subject, in the same show, they said that a gorilla is, on the average, eight times as strong as a man...but what does that mean? How strong is a man? Or a woman for that matter? It seems that there'd be way too much variation from one human to another for such statements to have much meaning.
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Old 04-04-2005, 01:29 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Re: swimming. Humans have more fat than chimps, so we're helped out in terms of boyancy. But the key to efficient swimming is reducing drag in the legs. A good swimmer coordinates leg kicks with arm strokes to keep the body as horizontal as possible. There's also a great feedback mechanism: the fast you swim, the "easier" it is to keep your legs from dangling. Chimps are more likely to thrash about rather than propel forwward-- swimming is definitely a learned behavior, though, and an adult human who has never learned to swim might not do much better than a chimp...
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Old 04-04-2005, 01:45 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Of course, that would make sense. But keep in mind I'm thinking of exceptionally strong people, not just run-of-the-mill athletes. Think more along the lines of people who used to do strongman or strongwoman acts in circuses and the like.
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Old 04-04-2005, 05:38 PM
violacrane violacrane is offline
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I've seen guys in the World's Strongest Man competition swim.
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Old 04-04-2005, 05:59 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Some people seem to be just dense; I know a guy who has a hard time swimming because he's just a sinker. He's pretty scrawny but not emaciated-thin (low fat) or built up (high muscle).

Bulldogs, in my experience, will sink right to the bottom of a swimming pool and have to be rescued, because they're dense.
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