Wednesday, June 5, 2019

SearchResearch Challenge (6/5/19): Unusual sports?

There are plenty of amazing sports... 

... many of which strike me as pretty unusual.  There's the annual wife-carrying competition (multiple locations), an international "worm charming" championship in Chesire (UK), and the locally well-known "kinetic sculpture race" in which contestants race their home-made (and wonderfully whacky) all-terrain human-powered vehicles over a 50 mile course of land, sand, water, and mud.  And then there was the "plunge for distance" where the competitor would do a racing dive into a pool, then glide as far as possible in 60 seconds.  

And as with all sporting events, questions inevitably arise.  Questions come up about the biggest, fastest, heaviest, most difficult, or tallest events, all of which drive many a discussion in the pub or over the dinner table.  It was questions like these that led to the creation of the Guinness World Book of Records.  

In recent ale- and stout-powered discussions, three sporting questions arose.  Can you use your SearchResearch skills to answer them? 

1. As Europe grows increasingly warmer with the passing years, will the long distance ice-skating race that passes through 11 Dutch towns still be able to be held?  What's that event called?  When was it last held (and who won)?  
2.  Several of us in the discussion were former collegiate volleyball players, but since it was a very international evening, other folks started to tell us about different versions of volleyball that are played with feet alone.  Is this for real?  How could you bump/set/spike a ball with just your feet?  If so, what is this sport, and where is it played?  (Participants insist there are at least 2 different versions of this sport.) 
3.  Although the next summer Olympics are still a year away, we started talking about former Olympic events that aren't held any more.  Tug of war at the summer Olympics (1900-1920) is a famous example of a now discontinued sport.  While there seems to be an endless number of swimming events, was there ever a swimming event that was held underwater?  If so, what was it?  When was it last held?  Is there an Olympic champion?  

This week's Challenge isn't that hard, although as always, there are sometimes nuances that require a bit more search skill than usual.  

What can you find out?  When you suss out the answer, let us know in the comment thread. 

Search on! 


  1. took the plunge & looked for this type of water travel… all overly complicated in a soggy sort of way…
    1900, Paris
    'Competitors are described within the International Rules as 'swimmers' rather than as finswimmers or divers.['
    Charles DeVandeville, André Six, & Peter Lykkeberg
    other discontinued water events… Swimming Plunge for distance and Swimming Obstacle Race
    "…Underwater Swimming Techniques: Submarine – Dolphin Kicking – Streamline"
    there are rules - for parts

  2. Hello Dr. Russell and everyone!

    What's that event called? When was it last held (and who won)?

    [ice skating race 11 dutch towns]

    Event name, Wikipedia Then went to Deutsch version and translated with Google Translate. Mentions "alternative Elfstedentocht" in Austria

    [Alternative Elfstedentocht ]

    n 2019, there were four Alternative Eleven City tours of 200 kilometers

    The alternative Eleven Cities Tour

    With [last elfstedentocht]

    2018:Why the Netherlands will never have an ‘Elfstedentocht’ (Eleven cities tour) again

    “... The last tours were held in 1985, 1986 and 1997. All participating skaters must be members of the Association of the Eleven Frisian Towns, so if you’re wondering if you can ever participate then the answer is ‘no’...”

    With [last elfstedentocht winner]

    there was a sports pioneer called Willem “Pim” Mulier. He initiated the first officially organized “Elfstedentocht”.

    Last winners:

    Male: H. Angenen

    Women: First one was in 1985. Last one, in 1997 it was Klasina Seinstra the winner.

    With [elfstedentocht unknown facts]
    Women in the “Elfstedentocht”

    “...example after the Olympic Games in 1928 the 800m for women in athletics was removed from the program because people decided that it was too long a distance for women. The 800m for women did not come back in the program of the Olympic Games till 1968….”

    And, Own language, Mata Hari and more

    1. 2. Volleyball that are played with feet alone. If so, what is this sport, and where is it played?

      I have seen this sport in soccer practices so, yes, it exists. And, I didn’t think it was something that people played regularly, thought it was fun made by professional soccer players

      3. was there ever a swimming event that was held underwater? If so, what was it? When was it last held? Is there an Olympic champion?

      [Olympic Games swimming event underwater]

      Google suggested in related questions: What other Olympic sport happens in the pool?

      The men's underwater swimming. Paris 1900

      The Olympic champion

      Interesting Trivia The third place getter Peter Lykkeberg actually swam for nearly 30 seconds longer than the winner, but did not travel as far as he went in a circle.

      With [Olympic games underwater swimming 1900 photos]


      "...It’s often assumed that finswimming has the best chance of becoming the first underwater sport in the Olympics. This can never happen, for apnea already got there first.

      In 1900, the Paris Games included apnea/freediving, which was then known as “underwater swimming”. The competition gave the competitors one point for each second underwater and two points for each meter swum..."

    2. For the Volleyball question, tried [ Volleyball played with foot]

      Answer, as found by Remmij is Sepak takraw and Footvolley. Need to SRS more about it.

      Then, I wonder besides Greek, any other culture loved sports in that way?

      Searched using words like Greece, Greek, Mayan, Aztecs due to their ball game

      Is ancient Greece the only ancient civilization in the world that had put great emphasis on sports activity? Quora

      Then searched [list of sports played in Olympics], [1896 Olympic Sports], [underwater sports Olympics] then rememebered that our sport was played in 1900. In this case that didn't affect the results

      Sports of the Olympic Games Clicked on swimming..."The 2020 Tokyo Games will finally equalizing the available events for men and momen... in this sport"

      Interesting too the trivia, some unusual swimming events at the early Olympic Games, and Tarzan

      The Incredible Evolution of the Olympics

      As mentioned by Dr. Russell, Tug-of-war was an unusual game (one that I remember because the Search MOOC by Google and Dr. Russell)

      Olympic events history Golf, Croquet, American Football and many more!

  3. As I live in Belgium, neighboring country of Holland, I can ensure that the one and only 'elfstedentocht' is in Holland. Perhaps a lot of so called 'alternative' contests will be organised during wintertime but none with the character of the Dutch one.

    The Elfstedentocht (Frisian: Alvestêdetocht) is an almost 200 kilometer long ice skating tour organized by the Royal Association of the Frisian Eleven Cities. Because of the distance and because of the heroic character, the Elfstedentocht is also called "De Tocht der Tochten".

    Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland, has traditionally been the starting and arrival place. The Elfstedentocht was (officially) driven for the first time in 1909 and is only held once a winter. The tour can only be organized if the condition of the ice permits. In total, the tour was held fifteen times. The most recent tour took place in 1997. There has never been so much time between two editions as now. The old record stood at 8070 days, between the editions of 1963 and 1985.

    The last Elfstedentocht so far was held on January 4, 1997. This was relatively heavy, with wind force 5 to 6 and frost, temperatures from -6 degrees in the morning to -3 degrees in the afternoon at most. In combination with the wind, this produced feeling temperatures between -10 and -15 ° C and around -18 ° C during gusts of wind. However, unlike the exceptionally demanding journey of 1963, the ice was now snow-free and of good quality.

  4. 1. [dutch long distance ice-skating] finds that it is called Elfstedentocht -- English: Eleven cities tour.
    Runs thru 11 historical cities of the Province of Friesland. - Wikipedia

    [Elfstedentocht climate change] finds little optimism it will be held again:
    Nevertheless: For now, the 10 volunteer board members of the Royal Organization for the Eleven Frisian Cities, which oversees the race, prepare extensively for it all year, every year, as if it will happen.

    An "alternative Elfstedentocht" has been held every year in January since 1989 on the Weissensee in Carinthia, Austria. - wikipedia and others

    Elfstedentocht was last held January 1997 and was won by speedskater Henk Angenent in 6 hrs 49 minutes

  5. 2. [foot volleyball] finds several Youtubes of different versions :
    Sepak takraw or kick volleyball, is a sport native to Southeast Asia. Sepak takraw differs from the similar sport of footvolley in its use of a rattan ball and only allowing players to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball. A little aptitude for agility seems to help.

    Footvolley combines field rules that are based on those of beach volleyball with ball-touch rules taken from association football. Essentially footvolley is beach volleyball except players are not allowed to use their hands and a football replaces the volleyball. Also known as Pevolei and Futevolei

    Played in USA, UK, Paraguay, Brazil, Israel, Italy, Australia (of course) and South Korea.--Wikipedia

  6. 3. [underwater swimming event] finds
    The men's underwater swimming was an event on the Swimming at the 1900 Summer Olympics schedule in Paris. The 1900 Games were the only occasion such an event was held. It was held on 12 August 1900. 14 swimmers from 4 nations competed.[1] It was not featured at later Olympic games because of lack of spectator appeal. Really, whoever could have guessed that might be the case?

    The score was given by adding one point for each second and two points for each metre swum underwate

    Men's underwater swimming
    at the Games of the II Olympiad
    Venue River Seine
    Date August 12
    Competitors 14 from 4 nations
    1st, gold medalist(s) Charles Devendeville
    2nd, silver medalist(s) André Six

    These first 2 lasted 68 and 65 seconds and each swam 60 meters

    These Challenges were a great stress relief from the frenzied pace of the R2AK. jon tu

  7. I missed that one. Thanks for the link. (FWIW, James Fallows was an early inspiration for SRS. I had a long talk with him when SRS was just getting started. I love his reportage and his way of doing SRS in his work.)