Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Swimming with no hands

So Doc discovers a story about a man in Cambodia who set the Guiness World Record for handcuffed swimming. Apparently he swam 5.8 kilometres with his hands cuffed behind his back. And it wasn't for any cool reason, either, like he had just escaped from a Cambodian prison or a paddy wagon and needed to swim for his freedom. It was just to break a world record. The fact this record had to be "broken" obviously means that at some point in the past, it had been "set", and is now officially recognized. This leads me to believe that the easiest thing thing in the world would be to get into the Guiness Book. I'm going to set the record for longest distance walked carrying a hot dog between my butt cheeks. Oh, someone already holds that record? OK, I'll set the record for longest distance walked carrying a hot dog between my butt cheeks WHILE balancing an egg on a spoon. Send your people to verify as I walk from my couch to my fridge. And then back to the couch.

Anyway, what it all boiled down to was this - Doc, Woody and Randall all believed that I was incapable of matching even a fraction of this 5.8 km record. I made the assertion that I absolutely could. The wager then became whether I could swim two lengths of a pool while handcuffed. We were searching for a pool that would allow us to do that, when a man from Russell called the show to say we could use his pool. His outdoor pool. It's the middle of November and it's minus-7 in the mornings. This man is obviously a sadist, or maybe a lunatic, or a bit of both. But Doc and Woody are not to be outdone on the sadist scale. (A scale that measures one's enjoyment when seeing pain inflicted on others. I understand it is an arbitrary designation that goes from "Mother Teresa" to "Caligula". Doc and Woody rate somewhere around the "Richard Simmons" level.) So they decide that I am going to do the outdoor swim.

Not that it really makes a difference to them, but the fact of the matter is that doing two lengths of an outdoor pool in handcuffs is no great feat. This will not settle our bet at all. In fact, all it will prove is that it sucks to jump into freezing water through a layer of frozen ice. We already KNOW that. But the bit is no longer about whether I can swim with my hands cuffed or not, it's now about the scream I will make when I jump into the icy pool and flail about. Perhaps this will make for entertaining radio, but nobody is going to LEARN anything. Another problem I have is that this man has clearly winterized his pool sometime two months ago. In the meantime, as always happens with backyard pools, small creatures have wandered by, fallen in, drowned and become tiny little floating corpses, rendering the water full of disease. I assume. Apparently this will also make for great radio, as we now will spend the next seven months watching and waiting to see if I catch, and how long it takes before I succumb to, infectious diptheria. Fun and games boys, fun and games.

So the next day Jason, our promo guy, picks me up and we start out. I'm still not being told where the pool is, and I have come to the conclusion that if it is indeed the outdoor pool, there's no way I'm jumping in. Not that I have anything against the temperature of the water. In fact, the polar bear club in Ottawa sends us email every year asking me to come out with them and take the plunge. Unfortunately, it's always when Doc and Woody are on vacation, and I have to run the show. But I certainly would do it otherwise. The cold wears off. It's the monoencephalodentiatitis that I'm worried about. Jeff Brown calls the show, our boss. Normally, he makes me sign a waiver for EVERYTHING, and won't let me do anything remotely dangerous. You want to be tasered? No. You want to skydive? No. You're going ot be running this morning? Sign a waiver. You're waiting for a bus? Sign a waiver. This morning, is he concerned about my health? No. "Make sure you get it on videotape!" He says. No waiver, no lawyers, nothing. Thanks boss.

So I'm on my way to the pool, wherever it is, with Jason. We get stuck in traffic as a huge accident clogs up Hunt Club for miles around. when we finally get going again, it's a race to where we're going to do the swim. We finally get to the Nepean Sportsplex at about 8:10. The Nepean Sportsplex! Thank God! (It turns out that the reason the swim was done there was not out of any last minute change of heart from Doc and Woody, it was merely that Jason was too lazy to work things out with this other guy and drive all the way out to Russell.) Whatever the reason, I'm thankful and I'm ready to go. Doc and Woody and especially Randall are maintaining that I will not make it two lengths of the pool handcuffed. But despite their disbelief, I knew I could. I played water polo for ten years! I can do this! It turns out it was harder than I thought. Jim and the others at the Sportsplex were worried about me, so they did it in the shallow pool. Still the same size, but that meant I couldn't tread water all the way, I had to swim flat on the surface. Otherwise my feet would touch, and I would slow down and lose my rhythm.

That meant I had to put my face in the water the whole time, leaping up to take breaths every few strokes. This was OK too, but in the end it was the breathing that killed me, not the actual physical exertion. I was pleased to see that the attractive lifeguard working this pool followed me every step of the way, to make sure I didn't drown. Jason followed as well, making sure that every gasp for air that came out of me was sent over the airwaves via cell phone. Super. I did my two lengths, and I was done. I won the bet. I showed those guys. But those guys weren't done. They wanted to move up a rung or two on the sadist scale, from "Richard Simmons" to "Howie Mandel". So they made me swim again. And again. Finally after four laps I gave up, completely out of breath. I wasn't sore at all, I had just lost all the air in my lungs due to my bizarre hopping-for-breath style of handcuffed swimming.

The point here is, I won the bet. And if you ever want to get into the Guiness Book, don't try to break someone else's crappy record for fastest time basting a turkey, create your own. Break new ground. Go for the record in "fastest basting of a turkey while listening to a Barry Manilow live album on a Sony brand stereo system". And if you can do it faster than the guy who did the same while listening to a studio album, well then, you're in the book twice, aren't you?

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