The real flashback video you’ve all been waiting for.
Eleven years ago this month, then-sophomore at Cal Nathan Adrian took one for the team and hopped into a swimming pool full of syrup – and sacrificed a full-body Team USA suit in the process (it was at the tail end of the supersuit era, anyway).
On an episode of the hit Discovery Channel series ‘MythBusters’ – which is filmed in a variety of Bay Area locations, a short drive from Cal’s campus – the hosts sought to debunk the myth that swimming in syrup makes an individual slower than when they swim water. To test the theory, Adrian swam in a 25-yard pool with regular water and then swam in a pool filled with Guar gum syrup (500 times thicker than water).
Adrian, fresh off of winning NCAA titles in the 50 and 100 free, swam the water length in 9.81 seconds and finished the syrup swim in 10.87 seconds – over 10% slower. One of the hosts, Adam Savage, also tried the experiment and found his syrup times to be closer to his water times, and also much more consistent than Adrian’s.
Savage and co-host Jamie Hyneman concluded that because he was so used to his technique in water, Adrian’s technique was affected much more negatively by the syrup than Savage’s was. Adrian said that swimming in the syrup “at speed” didn’t feel much different than swimming in water.
In the end, they deemed the myth was plausible, depending on the viscosity (gooeyness) of the syrup.
“It was a really fun experience,” Adrian said at at the time.”‘It was cool hanging out with the show’s hosts, Jamie [Hyneman] and Adam [Savage], and getting treated like a T.V. star. It was a nice day in November and it allowed me to miss practice.”