On July 16, 1966 it was reported that Mao Zedong swam in the Yangtze River at
First, here is some of the information that I have gathered from two sources listed below and others, from Google Earth’s view of
With the above information in hand and without trying to be very scientific, I would like to try and make some sense out of Mao’s swim. Mao did not swim steadily for 15 km. Assuming that he allowed himself to be carried along by the current and using the 2.06 m/s velocity, he would have been carried about 8000m (8 km) in 65 minutes that would have required an additional 7 k m of swimming and which would probably be beyond the capability of a world champion swimmer. Therefore Mao was either in the water for more than 65 minutes or else he did not go for 15 km. If the water velocity had been greater than 2.06 m/s, a very dangerous current in excess of 5 m/s would have been required to carry him far downstream..
This exercise is not meant to denigrate Mao’s accomplishment and the very important historical importance of it. It is meant to better understand the physical aspects of the swim and to suggest that in the news release that perhaps the facts were stretched a bit.
Some of my sources are Times Asia and the official