Doing Lengths

Doing Lengths

Interviewer:

I'm here with Albert Zing, who has set himself an unusual and somewhat ambitious task. He's going to swim the Atlantic Ocean, only he plans to do it a little differently.

Zing:

Yes, I'm doing it lengthways.

Interviewer:

You're going to swim from pole to pole?

Zing:

No, I'm going to do it from top to bottom. It will be easier that way, because it's downhill.

Interviewer:

That's what I mean: you're going to swim from the North Pole to the South Pole.

Zing:

Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, you could put it that way. You see, when I'm at my local pool, it's only the wusses who do widths. I do lengths.

Interviewer:

That's quite some feat.

Zing:

Thank you, yes, I have got feet. They will be instrumental in my attempt.

Interviewer:

No, I mean it will be quite a feat, meaning that it will be an act of endurance. How do you plan to do it?

Zing:

Front crawl.

Interviewer:

Front crawl?

Zing:

It's the only way. You have to be serious about these things. Using front crawl, I will be able to maximise the power of my stroke, plus make the most of the pulsive power of those feet that I mentioned a moment ago.

Interviewer:

It will be quite cold, of course.

Zing:

In places, yes it will be. Specifically, at the top and the bottom. I expect it will get a bit warmer in the middle.

Interviewer:

I see, and are you prepared mentally to cope with the low temperatures?

Zing:

Yes, I think so. I've had a long hard think about it, and as a result of that, I'm not expecting any surprises in that department. Of course, being mentally prepared for something is all very well, but it's not nearly so important as being physically prepared.

Interviewer:

And what have you done to physically prepare yourself?

Zing:

I went to the zoo.

Interviewer:

The zoo?

Zing:

Yes, I went to the zoo and studied how the penguins cope with it. The way I figure it is, if you want to do something proper, check out the experts.

Interviewer:

And was that helpful?

Zing:

No. No, it wasn't helpful at all. They just hopped around and fell over occasionally. I couldn't see how that might assist me. Mind you, it was quite a warm day, so I probably wasn't seeing them at their best.

Interviewer:

So, your fact-finding mission was a waste of time?

Zing:

Not entirely. I had an ice cream, and I also saw the monkeys while I was there. They're funny. No, I have decided that the way I'm going to cope with the cold is to wear an anorak.

Interviewer:

That will be quite cumbersome, won't it?

Zing:

Well, I plan to take it off and tie it round my waist when I go through the warm bits. That way, I will feel the benefit when I head back into the cold water. And it will be very useful, because of the pockets.

Interviewer:

Pockets?

Zing:

Oh yes, well I've got to have somewhere to put stuff, haven't I? Compass, spare goggles, sandwiches.

Interviewer:

Sandwiches?

Zing:

Ah, I'm glad you said 'sandwiches' just then, because we've spent quite a lot of time developing sandwiches that will survive in the ocean. They are impregnated with a special compound that makes them impervious to water. Unfortunately, it also makes them impervious to teeth.

Interviewer:

Won't that make them difficult to eat.

Zing:

Difficult? No. It will make them impossible to eat, although that's no bad thing. You see, they're egg and cress sandwiches, and I'm not really keen on egg and cress.

Interviewer:

Does that mean you will have nothing to eat for your entire journey?

Zing:

Yes, but then it's not advisable to swim on a full stomach, so it's probably for the best. I should think I'll be finished by teatime.

Interviewer:

By teatime? How long do you expect your attempt to take?

Zing:

Well, I've had a look on the map, I've plotted my route and I reckon six hours should do it. Because I don't plan on hanging about, you know. Oh no, this is not a sight-seeing expedition. I'm not going to be treading water while I watch dolphins and humpbacked whales. I've got to get a wriggle on.

Interviewer:

Six hours?

Zing:

Yeah, about that. I've got to go round Rockall, so that might put an extra twenty minutes on my journey, but I can't take too long about it. I'm a busy man, you know. I've got to be back at work in the morning.

Interviewer:

I see. Well, it's good to know that you won't be making your attempt alone. I believe that your sister, Alice Zing, will be following you in the support boat.

Zing:

Yes, it's a rowing boat from the local lake. We've borrowed it off the council. They need it back by the weekend, so there's another reason for us to get a move on.

Interviewer:

And will this boat be kitted out with all the latest survival equipment?

Zing:

It has a new set of oars and has recently had its bottom scraped. Alice will be following me all the way, shouting encouragement and helpful advice through a megaphone. Things like: 'left a bit' and 'watch out for that tanker'. She will also have a big stick with which to fend off sharks.

Interviewer:

Of course, if you're successful in your attempt - which I'm sure you will be - it means that not only will you be the first person to swim from pole to pole, but Alice will be the first person to row from pole to pole.

Zing:

Oh yes. Adventure runs in our family. Our mother was the first person to skate up the Matterhorn, you know.

Interviewer:

Well, Albert Zing, thank you very much for speaking to us today, and I wish you the very best luck and I hope you reach the South Pole safe and sound.

Zing:

Thanks mate. I'll send you a postcard when I get there.

Map

 

Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2022
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