October 21, 2015 Back To The Future – Swim Style

by Retta Race 1

October 21st, 2015 Industry, Lifestyle, News

An important day in pop culture is upon us!  Wednesday, October 21, 2015 is the date Doc Brown and Marty McFly plug into their DeLorean time machine computer in the popular 1980’s film, Back To the Future II, which means we, my friends, are officially in the future.

Besides being a cult classic series, the Back to the Future movies also served as comical predictors of the future, giving us a glimpse as to what the movie producers envisioned as being relevant 50+ years into the future.  Now that we’re in the year 2015, what did the Back To The Future series get right?  Taking it one-step further, how has the sport of swimming evolved within this same context?

Back To The Future Prediction – Self-Fitting Clothes

Ok, so in 2015 we don’t have killer kicks that automatically suction to our feet and adjust immediately to our size, nor do we have jackets that have sleeves shrinking up to fit our exact measurements.  But, at least in our sport, many swimmers do opt for the circulation-cutting, unyielding fit of technical racing suits that come in futuristic fabrics. The suits don’t exactly fit our bodies perfectly on the first try, but find the right fit and the suit is like a second skin, so much so that it takes a team of pals to get you into that second skin.  Also in 2015 in our sport, we do have pretty slick goggles that come in all shapes and sizes and can be adjusted from eye-bulging, migraine-inducing, over-the-top tight, to the other extreme of casual-loose-mode, whereby the goggles cruelly fall off during your dive and torture you for the remainder of the race.  Not exactly “self-adjusting” jackets and shoes, but still customizable fashion – much better than the ‘sans goggle’, red-eyed days of yore.  Now we just need goggles that project images of food as incentive to get through our tough workouts.

Back To The Future Prediction – Virtual Reality

Back To The Future II does give a tantalizing peek into the possibility of a wide spectrum of ‘virtual reality’-type eyewear whether it be the character Marty’s daughter answering a phone via looking into a shield-type eye-covering labeled ‘PHONE’ or Doc Brown’s scanning of passers-by with his digital binoculars. Translated to 2015 swimming, we now have the much-raved about IKKOS ‘blackbox’ viewers, which render 3-D training videos literally right in front of swimmers’ eyes. Our generation also has Google Glass, which launches videos, apps, reminders – your life – into a pair of glasses that weigh just under two ounces.  Perhaps even more into the future our coaches will be able to project holograms of themselves along every inch of the pool, so we get to hear their cheerful voices at 5am over and over and over again.

Back To The Future Prediction – Screen Calling

The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist ‘Flea’ makes his cameo appearance as McFly’s nasty, sneaky business partner who cons him into a sidebar deal that ultimately gets him fired, but it all takes place via screen-to-screen calling.  In today’s terms – Skype.  Skype is a beautiful thing, which allows us to make free virtual phone calls to almost anyone, anywhere on the planet as long as a viable internet connection exists. In some cases, the service is what allows SwimSwam to bring you visual interviews with swimmers from around the world. In the bigger picture, Skype is just one of many media tools available in today’s world for learning, reaching, communicating with people far, far away, which we otherwise would have had to rely on expensive analog calls or – GASP – handwritten letters. Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr – you name it, all enable global communication on an unprecedented level, which ultimately makes us all one big, happy swimming family, right?

Back To The Future Prediction – Bio-Automation

I know I’m not the only one who thought it was so cool when the character Jennifer’s door opened upon the police scanning her thumb print on her front porch. The thought of technology being so personalized as to be associated with your own personal fingerprint was so ‘futuristic’ at the time.  Flash Forward to 2015 when almost everyone walks around with a FitBit, Jaw Bone or some other fitness tracker that counts your individual steps, sleeping habits, heart rate, breathing patterns every minute of every day. The Speedo Shine (by MisFit) also now allows you to take this personalized movement-tracking underwater into your aquatic universe. Now you have no excuse not to know your number of daily laps, resting heart rate, and average caloric intake using 2015’s spin on individualized bio-automation.

Back To The Future Prediction – Sports Almanac

Ok, so not really a prediction, but the sports almanac that falls into Biff’s hands is a crucial plot element to Back To The Future II. ‘Past Biff’ uses the almanac to place bets on future races, games, etc., which ultimately lands ‘future Biff’ at the helm of a mega-millions empire, wreaking  havoc and causing chaos.  Just what would be in the swimming section of that almanac?  Time travel back to August 15-18th, 1985 in Tokyo, Japan when the first ever Pan Pacific Swimming Championships took place. American swimming icons Matt Biondi, Pablo Morales and Mary T. Meagher dominated the meet, putting up times that were downright nasty for that year. Biff would most certainly have needed to rely on the almanac, however, since, as fast as their times were, today’s mega-stars are producing marks that would have blown 1985 away.  

Here is a sampling of events for comparison:

Event 1985 Gold Medal Time from Pan Pacs 2015 Gold Medal Time from Worlds
Men’s 50m Free 22.73 (Matt Biondi) 21.19 (Florent Manaudou)
Men’s 100m Free 49.17 (Matt Biondi) 47.84 (Ning Zetao)
Men’s 100m Fly 53.69 (Pablo Morales) 50.56 (Chad Le Clos)
Men’s 200m IM 2:04.04 (Pablo Morales) 1:55.81 (Ryan Lochte)
Women’s 50m Free 26.19 (Lisa Dorman) 24.12 (Bronte Campbell)
Women’s 400m Free 4:13.16 (Kim Brown) 3:59.13 (Katie Ledecky)
Women’s 100m Fly 59.16 (Mary T. Meagher) 55.64 (Sarah Sjostrom)
Women’s 200m Fly 2:07.33 (Mary T. Meagher) 2:05.56 (Natsumi Hoshi)


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That Mary T Meagher 200 fly time is dangerously close to still making the final in 2015. Certainly she would have looked very competitive against anyone in the field today even coming forward 30 years.

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