It’s Taper Time: The Harlem Shake Throw Down (#harlemshakeoff)

What we know so far about producing a GREAT Harlem Shake video:

1. It appears participation is key to your team’s success. You want big numbers, a lot of swimmers doing the Harlem Shake.

2. Each swimmer must have their own genuine Harlem Shake style. You must groove to your own beat and go for it. There’s the floor wiggle, the hanging wiggle, the handstand wiggle, the lazy hip pump, the frantic hip pump, and the out-of-beat shake.

3. Costumes appear to help as well. If you do not have a gorilla or horse mask, swimmer-esque costumes seem to do the trick.  Use a snorkle, a swim cap over your face, or a towel swirled on your head…etc.

4. The University of Tennessee got it right when they had one Harlem Shaker holding a UT Swimming Banner in the center of the video. School pride is a must!

5. The pre low-key groove before everyone unleashes must be absolutely causal…tongue in check, however. Don’t just stand and stare blankly while that one person dances. Act like you’re reading a book (something ridiculous like 50 Shades of Grey or Sun Tzu’s Art of War), or shaving your legs, or applying a facial cosmetic mask or zit cream.

6. This might be thinking outside of the box, but the first team to incorporate their coach may capture the entire coaching community audience. Could be a bad idea, however. Depends on the coach.

University of Tennessee Swimming and Diving, via captain Ed Walsh, was the first:

Northwestern quickly followed:

Then, the flood gates opened. The Georgia men sit in the headline right now, props for being underwater. They weren’t the first underwater video, however. That title goes to Incarnate Word in San Antonio, a Division II team.

University of Incarnate Word, Underwater Originals

West Virginia went global…and mental…for their Harlem Shake

About Half of these videos have Santa Hats, including this one from Carthage College

Lifeguard Buoys are not toys, but UMBC sure is having fun with them

We Have Confirmed a large portion of this group is the Western University swim team, including the guy in the red pants popping and locking on the penguin:

Wisconsin-Milwaukee wanted to win the SwimSwam Shakeoff so badly, that they talked the Athletic Department into letting them use the Mascot:

There are all kind of goodness in this gem from Brandeis. Focus on the details….

The team at Tufts was snowed in all weekend from Winter Storm Nemo. At least they found something productive to do.

Lincoln College took out the Strobe Light

No Cats were harmed in the making of this shake…that bear might not have made it though. University of Tampa

Missouri S&T Makes creative use of their dorm furniture

Who’s was the best? Vote below. We’re almost positive we’re going to get more submissions, so keep them coming, and we’ll post round 2 later in the week.

Who made the best Harlem Shake video? (Round 1)

View Results

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  1. Ember McCoy says:

    The Carthage College coaches are in fact the stars in the beginning of that video! They just look young. Looks like we win #6 :)

  2. Hungry Hippo says:


  3. Alex George says:

    Carthage kicks that vid off with their coaches!

  4. Hungry Hippo says:

    UGA made front page on Reddit… Nbd

  5. HarlemShaker says:

    The Dawgs have the best one by far, props to those guys! Really gaining public notoriety for our sport.

  6. Ya boi lavoy says:

    Anders holm retweet

  7. matt kredich for PREZ says:

    Carthage might have done the coaches….but thats STUPID!!! #DAWGS!!!!

  8. matt kredich for PREZ says:

    Carthage may have used the coaches…… but that is STUPID #DAWGS

  9. Bob says:

    Wisconsin isn’t even the swim team! That shouldn’t be on here… Although impressive. Georgia is the best!

  10. Hungry Hippo says:

    Tennessee is hanging in there with 1% of the votes

  11. hungrier hippo says:

    University of Incarnate Word??? is that a college?

  12. dawggirl says:


  13. EPrimdahl says:

    Shoutout to the Missouri S&T kid who almost has as many pairs of chubbies as I do

  14. Dawgfan4life says:

    DAWGS ON TOP. best video by far!! They have a bike… UNDERWATER

  15. daftpunk says:

    The sexy ladies in Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s video are being covered up by sausage fests. And they got their mascot…

  16. rjcid says:

    I have to go with Carthage – gotta foot for my school!

  17. Stelpfl2 says:

    I love how UW-Milwaukee did theirs during practice with one of their coaches as a banana! And yes… all swimmers, plus a mascot.

  18. completelyconquered says:


  19. Steph says:







    • Yeswereserious says:

      Looks like fun to me. Many of these teams are a couple weeks away and are using some of the energy to make this whole process fun.

    • Yeswereserious says:

      Looks like fun to me. We aren’t blowing our tapers. It’s a way to enjoy this whole process a little more, and be creative.

  21. Tyler says:

    I know for a fact that Northwestern swimming was the first one to do it. Their video was posted on youtube a half a day before tennessees

  22. The guy in the banana suit (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee video) is none other than Adam Mania.

  23. Christopher Brill says:


  24. Hungry Hippo says:

    NU may have been first but it was awful.. Comment again when you have almost 700k views

  25. mike brodnik says:

    WVU starts off the best (according to #5 at the top of the article)

  26. Will Yang says:

    Let’s not forget about Yale Men’s Swimming

  27. Karen Watson says:

    Often imitated, never duplicated – TENNESSEE!

  28. Bishbash says:

    Look for The UGA Harlem Shake on Good Morning America. Go dawgs!

  29. YOLO says:

    ‘Eiffel Towering’ stuffed animals and people should automatically disqualify a video from being added into the poll…not good taste. Everything else is fair game though. C’mon man – obey the Harlem Shake etiquette!

    • Agree says:

      Will be slightly uncomfortable looking at conference meet results and NCAA results wondering if one of the names I read was on the front or the back of a giant stuffed bear.

  30. Lil Spoon says:

    Brandeis was up first it was made when there were no swim team ones they checked

  31. LINCOLNLYNX says:


  32. the champ says:

    Tennessee is closing in fast. only 1 MILLION to go. #DAWGS

  33. Hungry Hippo says:

    The 1 million view club is getting pretty lonely

  34. John says:

    You totally forgot Pomona College!


  36. I had no idea what the whole Harlem shake down dealio was… After watching a couple of these I still don’t think I do. Good to see programs getting some viral love tho.

  37. DutchWomen says:

    And……..people wonder why swimming doesn’t hold a candle to the big three sports and why we have such a hard time attracting boys to the sport. We’re confused as to why high school boys get made fun of by football/basketball/baseball types for swimming. The numbers don’t lie….we are the 10th most popular sport for boys at the high school level. Twice as many boys wrestling in high school than swim. Get a clue!!!


    Ten Most Popular Boys Programs
    1. Football – 11-player 1,095,993
    2. Track and Field – Outdoor 575,628
    3. Basketball 535,289
    4. Baseball 474,219
    5. Soccer 411,757
    6. Wrestling 272,149
    7. Cross Country 248, 494
    8. Tennis 159,800
    9. Golf 152,725
    10. Swimming and Diving 133,823

    Go ahead and hate on me. 10th most popular sport for high school boys..Our college male role models dancing around in speedos. Tell next time you see Alabama football or Indiana basketball doing this. Tell me next time the Miami Heat make a Harlem Shake video in speedos.

    If you want more boys to participate, how about learning from the sports most popular among boys. There is something called testosterone that that controls the 12-18 year old types and you won’t find it in any of these shake videos, call me maybe, etc.

  38. dutchoven says:

    Here is the #5 ranked college football team, Georgia Bulldog football team, dancing around half naked.

  39. MisinformeDutchWoman says:

    “By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

    Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.”


    You really recommend that high school teenagers, in a state of forming prefrontal cortices, should be looking up to professional athletes that sit on their butts most of the game? All because they make money???? SO, you recommend that kids grow up to be lazy and contribute nothing to society, but take loads of money from it, only to lose such money shortly thereafter!!!! That’s probably the best way for society to cease moving forward and simply fail.

  40. Matt says:

    Well this escalated quickly. Haha

  41. DutchWomen says:

    Facts –

    1. Swimming / Diving is the 10th most popular high school sport for boys in this country.

    2. You all act like swimmers are saints….We all know swimmers party just as hard as anyone else, but as a low profile sport it doesn’t get the coverage football/basketball does. Michael Phelps bong anyone? I can think of a certain Big-Ten school where swimmers were arrested not too long ago but won’t go there. Stop your nonsense, stop your whining, swimmers party hard, very hard. Ask them. They’ll tell you.

    3. At least the football/basketball types made money to begin with. Would you rather we remain the 10th most popular sport among boys and have our elite level types make slave wages, or risk the chance of some elites going broke for NFL salaries? Ha! You fools! How about you ask the top 3% of elite swimmers worldwide. Would you risk the chance of becoming broke for the ability to earn multi-million dollar salaries? Again, you fools!

    4. Swimming has lower numbers than other sports because it is harder? Is that so? Sure, it’s a tough sport. But I’ve played both football and swam. You simply cannot compare the two. Tell me the next time you see a compound fracture at a swim meet….Ala Joe Theisman. Tell me the next time you see a spinal cord injury….Ala Eric Legrand. Tell me the next time you see a swimmer blowing out a knee like Willis McGahee in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. IF you haven’t seen any of these videos I suggest you get on YouTube and do some personal soul searching after watching. It is not even a comparison. Swimming you have the pain of lactic acid, which while yeah it hurts but can be a high for some people (ala….Pumping Iron…Arnold)…..Football you have the kind of pain that says $%#@, my bone is sticking out of my leg!!!

    5. MisinformedDutchWoman –

    Easy to take the bad apples and apply it to an entire sport. Tell me about RGIII…would you want your son looking up to him? Tell me about Kurt Warner…would you want your son looking up to him? How about Roberto Clemente or Jackie Robinson….not good enough role models for you? Quit your whining, stop this nonsense!! In every sport, every profession, every walk of life you’re going to have your bad apples. To apply that to the whole is childish at best. As if because a few catholic priests molested boys they’re all bad, because Michael Phelps smoked weed all swimmers do, because Kobe Bryant was unfaithful all basketball players are adulterous thugs, and because of Enron you can’t ever trust a CEO.

    Hogwash. Grow up!

    • JG says:

      The dutchwoman is right, which is why he has probably produced faster WOMAN than any of the clowns making immature comments on his posts.

    • Hungriest Hippo says:

      No response to DutchOven I see. Sadly with all your “facts,” you can’t defend your original position that swimmers making these videos = less participation by boys. Because I’m sure the Harvard baseball’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ video hurt their next year’s recruiting. Right.

      And be sure to let the Olympic Team know that their video was unbecoming to the sport. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your input

      • DutchWomen says:

        By your comments then you would be arguing that these videos would help participation numbers for high school boys? Put yourself back into high school and the jock culture – now tell me what your average high school jock is going to think about these videos. They’ll use a slang term that I won’t repeat here. Now these high school male students grow up to be your average American male and have very little interest in swimming.

        Football has earned the right to Harlem Shake – no one at the high school level or lower would dare call a footballer “happy” for doing this. Swimming….we haven’t earned this – its “cool” for basketball and football teams to do and “happy” for us.

        Tell me, how is it that wrestling totals nearly twice as many high school boys as swimming? And wrestling isn’t/wasn’t nearly as high a profile Olympic sport as swimming….yet STILL more high school boys wrestle. It certainly isn’t because wrestling is easier!!

        • High School Swimmer says:

          I’m a senior in high school and have not heard any of the jocks calling these videos “happy” as you call it. I have seen people watch some of these videos (members of the football, basketball, baseball, and soccer teams at my school) and they said that it is awesome and that they wish they could make videos like that.

        • DUTCHMEN says:

          Okay Dutch ill bite-
          Not only are your “facts” biased, but they don’t see the whole perspective. Do you know what it costs to have a swimming program at a high school? Because it is not cheap, thus most schools don’t do it. Quite frankly I dont care if wrestling has TWICE as many high school boys competing-its not even in the olympics anymore, looks like those boys have no role models to look up to anymore. And please don’t degrade such a pure sport like swimming to basketball or football where yes 78% are bankrupt a matter of years after their done competing. Not to mention the physical inabilities they are burdened with after their careers. May I remind you also that Swimming has the HIGHEST average GPA for college sports at 3.2-so we may not all go on to sign those million dollar contracts for professional athletics, but you can bet when you need surgery, legal advice, or something else that requires complex intellectual understanding your going to turn to a former swimmer rather then a former football player, or basketball player.

  42. Frank says:

    Maybe it’s not as bad as football, but I’ve seen at least 2 people fracture their hands on the finish of a sprint freestyle race.

    I’d argue that if anything though, this raises the profile of our sport. There’s an old saying that any publicity is good publicity. Some people will naturally be attracted to swimming, others to baseball or football or whatever. it’s really about showing that it’s not just hard work, it’s fun too. And the Georgia swim team totally beats the Georgia football team in the Harlem Shakeoff.

  43. korn says:

    3+ days and 7.6 million views….crazy!
    hope it carries them over through SEC’s

  44. Gabe Wheeler says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ENqWJrsMmY Here is SeattleU swimming’s submission even if it is a little late

  45. Truth says:

    I heard a swimmer did a triple crossing of the English Channel. Anyone know the name?

    Must be easy……..if a swimmer did it.

  46. Dutch oven open mouth says:

    “What? The ship is sinking? I’m glad I can throw a spiral!”

  47. Dave says:

    Here are some they missed

    Version 2

  48. Nerdles says:

    Here’s a shameless bump for the University at Buffalo!

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

GOLD MEDAL MEL, medal shot copy

Mel Stewart, aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, and USA Swimming. Mel has also worked as an Olympic analyst for ABC, NBC, EPSN, FOX SPORTS and TBS. At SwimSwam.com, Mel hosts Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.com, a weekly report featuring the world’s fastest swimmers and Olympic medalists. Read More »