Great Olympic Events of Yore: 200-meter swimming obstacle race

Chris Chase
July 31, 2008

Frederick Lane is known in many circles as the Australian Bo Jackson. Actually, it's only in my circle and it's not technically a circle, but go with me on this one.

In the 1900 Olympics, Lane completed a historic double, winning both the 200-meter freestyle and the 200-meter swimming obstacle race. The Australian is the only person in history to have achieved this prestigious feat, mainly because the obstacle race was the Carmelo Anthony of the aught-aught Olympiad: one-and-done.

The obstacle race took place in the River Siene and featured three different obstacles. First, competitors had to climb up and down a pole that may or may not have been placed there on Festivus. Next, they negotiated their way over a number of boats, which was followed by another set of boats that they had to swim under. Even though the event clearly favored firemen/barnacle scrubbers, Lane won in a time of 2:38.4.

His time is particularly interesting since it was only 13 seconds slower than his winning time in the normal, unimpeded 200-meter freestyle. This must mean that climbing up and down a pole doesn't take as long as I thought. Where's Pacman Adam Jones when you need him?