Wow. Just . . . wow. This episode of The Amazing Race was one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to watch. And I am not talking about that near-torture foot massage participants had to face for their Road Block once they got to Beijing, but because Kisha and Jen were so bad in the water. Also surprising: Tammy and Victor aren’t very strong swimmers, which I find hard to believe, because they’re from the Bay Area and I’ve never met a person up here that doesn’t know how to swim. But at least Tammy and Victor didn’t need to wear life vests in eight-foot deep water or drag themselves down the lane lines as a means of conveyance. Seriously, there is nothing sadder than seeing two grown women don life vests in a pool.
Why swimming? Because the most recent Olympiad was held in Bejing, where Michael Phelps won his eight gold medals and the folks at TAR thought it would be cool to dress the teams up in his special shark LZR Speedo and make them swim the very pool in which he swam. But that was only the “Swim” half of the “Sync or Swim” Detour. The other half explored something that the host country of China had more prowess at: synchronized diving, in which teams had to perfect a synchronized dive and score a 5 from both judges.
Tammy and Victor and Jen and Kisha tried the dives first, but no one could figure out that the reason they were never scoring higher than a four is because they couldn’t keep their damn feet together and pointed down when they entered the water. So, eventually, both teams gave up on the dives and faced the lap pool, in which they had to complete two legs of a 400-meter relay, switching off with their partner. No one had to beat Phelps’ superhuman time, but we at home were allowed to see a comparison between the racer’s time and Phelps. That dude can swim 100 meters in under a minute. It took Jaime and Cara and Margie and Luke – all pretty good swimmers – just under 3 minutes per 100 meters.
There’s no real point in counting how long it took Tammy and Victor, or Jen and Kisha, because failing at the dive put both teams really far behind and their own fears and insecurities only put them even further behind frontrunners Margie and Luke and Jaime and Cara.
I realize that Jen’s fear of the water is actually quite a paralyzing fear, and I don’t want to make fun of something that causes someone so much anxiety, but somewhere in her, she had to realize that no one would let her die on national television. Dude, Salome didn’t even know how to breathe underwater on Make Me a Supermodel and she worked it out. She even learned how to stay submerged for an extended period of time. And were there stipulations that said the swimmers had to do a certain stroke on each part of the relay? Why couldn’t Jen have simply done the backstroke the whole way down, thus completely avoiding putting her head underwater and negating any fear that she’d forget how to breathe (or, you know, not breathe the water) and drown? I just have so much trouble understanding the thought process that leads to a paralyzing fear of drowning.
But, hey, she got through it eventually, and it’s a double-length leg, which means all the more craziness next week as Cara and Jaime fight to keep their top spot!
Jen had clearly seen this terrifying clip from Jaws.
Seriously, though, it’s a pool, not the ocean, and the only thing that’s going to make you drown is yourself. Human bodies goddamn float, so even if you have your face down in the water, guess what? You liiiiiiiiift your heeeeeeeeeeeead above the water. With underwater cameramen there for protection in only five feet of water TOPS, there is no way anything at all is going to happen. Anxiety is one thing. Losing your common sense is another. Water is malleable. That’s the whole damn point of it.
I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. Swimming is the easiest thing in the world. If, for instance, her brother died in the tub I could understand some kind of anxiety, but we were given no clichéd movie-style explanation of anything like that. So I just chalk it up to ultimate fail.