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Friday, December 18, 2015

How High Can You Go?

Photo of Laso Schaller courtesy of Lukas Pilz / Red Bull Courtesy from Men's Journal.

Men's Journal recently reported on the record jump by Brazilian Laso Schaller who jumped from a platform above the Cascata del Salto waterfall near the Swiss-Italian border from 193 feet (58.8 meters).

"He smacked the water 3.58 seconds later while traveling at 76 mph. Six tanks set in the pool ahead of time to aerate the water would have helped soften the landing if Schaller hadn't overshot his intended target. He hit the harder water in the center of the pool instead. Miraculously, however, the 27-year-old canyoneer emerged from the stunt relatively unscathed, save for a slight dislocation of his right hip", Men's Journal writes here.

Men's Journal wrote that Rudolf Bok of the Czech Republic had set the previous record of 191 feet (58.2 meters) set in 1997, though he suffered from multiple fractures of his thoracic vertebrae.

However, in the open water swimming community, Alick Wickham from the Solomon Islands [shown on left] is credited with a high diving world record that was reportedly at 205 feet (62.4 meters).

Wickham was also credited at being one of the first to demonstrate the 'crawl stroke' to Australia. He was the national 50-yard freestyle champion of Australia.

Wickham was one of a group of swimmers who swam in Sydney's Manly Beach and in the sea-baths at Bronte Beach.

At the time, he used a stroke that was widespread in many parts of the Pacific Ocean. George Farmer, a prominent Australian coach at the turn of the century, saw Wickham and said, "Look at that kid crawling!" From this comment came the term, the crawl or freestyle as it is commonly known. Other swimmers replicated the head-up stroke that included a six-beat kick.

Forbes Carlile described Wickham, "In 1898 this boy from the British Solomon Islands arrived in Sydney - Alick Wickham - whose brother Harry wrote me several letters in 1950 when I was investigating the beginnings of the crawl stroke. These letters explained that Alick came to Australia on his father's trading schooner, when he was seven years old, and stayed in Sydney for his schooling.

Alick was keen on swimming, he played around in the water continually, and in 1898 was entered in a 66 yards U10 handicap race in Australia's oldest rock pool at Bronte, near Sydney. It was here that Alick astonished onlookers with his speed and unusual stroke. Charlie Bell, who raced against him, told me that Wickham swam with his head held fairly high, turning it quickly from side to side breathing with each complete stroke, his wooly head apparently not getting wet.

The entry of his arms was short and towards the centre line of the body with the elbows well bent. His arm action was very fast and short. Each arm performed a symmetrical action with the head turning from side to side as if breathing on each side, but only breathing on one side to each stroke

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The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

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