Category Archives: Amazing Performance

Amazing Performance: Mick & Keith

Photo by Steve Wood

I love the Rolling Stones…not much of a confession, but there it is. For a period, as a teenager it was something that I wouldn’t admit. I credit an older student at the University of Texas for making being a fan of the Stones legit again, when he explained that you knew you were listening to rock ‘n roll if it still sounded good coming out of a torn speaker in the cab of a Ford pick-up truck with no A/C in the middle of a Texas summer. The Stones have more songs that meet this criteria than any other band.

2012 will be their 50th anniversary and that’s cool. People don’t want it to be cool, but it is. Mick, the clever conniving Odysseus and Keith the rebellious Achilles, were meant to be dead or gone home at least by now. Keith making it too old age is the greatest rebellion he’s pulled off (the Keith death watch began in 1973). Mick as a knight…Charlie Watts said it best – Anyone else would be lynched: eighteen wives and twenty children and he’s knighted fantastic!

Makes it hard to choose who’d you rather be Mick or Keith.

Fuck me – I love the Rolling Stones. God, I hope there is a 50th anniversary tour.

What’s any of this got to do with personal growth and physical training? Not much really.  Just keep in mind that Mick is the son of a Physical Education teacher and by all accounts takes good care of himself. Keith is Keith.  Immortalized by his battles with drug addiction, booze, and unhealthy excess.  Mick is 68 and Keith will be 68 later this month. They are undisputed heavy weight champions in a line of work that kills people at any age.  So, if anyone tells you they’ve got this shit figured out – That there is a right way to eat, drink, exercise, laugh, love, and live your life – You ought to know that they’re lying.


Amazing Performance: KADOUR ZIANI

Kadour Ziani from Algeria is 5′ 10″. In The Perfection Point: Sport Science Predicts the Fastest Man, the Highest Jump, and the Limits of Athletic Performance, the authors report that Kadour has a standing vertical jump of 60″.

For purposes of comparison, check out Adrian Wilson getting a 66″ hurdle jump off of 3 steps.

Or these box jumps by Ryan Moody.  Note the 56″ standing jump on to a platform is a Guinness World Record.

OK – One more just for fun. With a bit of a run up, Cameron Wake pulls a cool thirty dollars off of an 11′ 8″ ceiling.

Amazing Performance: FRANZ KLAMMER

To win, you have to risk losing.

By skiing on the edge of oblivion, Austrian, Franz Klammer won the 1976 Olympic downhill event at Innsbruck.  He was the last of 15 skiers. By the time Klammer was ready to ski, much of the snow had been pushed off by the others.  The course was icy and Klammer was chasing the very fast time of former Olympic champion Bernhard Russi.  Russi completed the course in 1:46.06.  At the end of Klammer’s break neck run, the clock read 1:45.73, 1/3 of a second faster than Russi. As 60,000 Austrian fans erupted, Russi was the first to congratulate Klammer on his amazing performance.



Amazing Performance: JUSTINA KOWALCZYK

Amazing Performance: LEWIS GORDON PUGH

Amazing Performance: DOMINIC LACASSE

WWLD: What Would Lombardi / Landry Do?








Within the pantheon of football gods these two men represent Apollo and Dionysus.  The ever exuberant Vince Lombardi and the stoic Tom Landry.  From 1954 through 1958, these two men were two sides of the same coin, Coach Lombardi as the offensive coordinator and Coach Landry as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants.  In the book Giants: What I Learned About Life from Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry, Pat Summerall recounts the 1958 season when as a kicker, a defensive end, and a player expected to fill in on offense, he was coached by both men.

I am not old enough to remember watching a Lombardi coached team play, but he was part of my life.  My Italian-American grandmother, a serious football fan, taught me that Lombardi was the epitome of a football coach.  As a kid, the reverent way people talked about him made it clear, Lombardi was a legend, gone, but not forgotten.  And, during the 1980’s, ESPN could have been the Lombardi channel, as NFL Films featuring the legendary coach were in heavy rotation.

But, on Sundays, a tall soft-spoken Texan in a sport coat and tie, wearing a fedora, got my vote for Ultimate Football Coach.  Landry’s discipline inspired confidence.  I never, ever, not once in my life felt that a Tom Landry coached Cowboy’s team wasn’t capable of winning a football game.  As long as they weren’t playing the Giants, I was happy to watch those teams work under his leadership.

Remarkable in Their Similarities

As larger than life figures, their differences in personality tend to mask the similarities.  But, Summerall makes a point of highlighting the traits that they shared.

Both were men of faith.  Lombardi went to mass every morning.  The unwritten Landry code was Faith, Family, and Football.  Their level of devotion was a demonstration of a shared belief that although perfection is not attainable, striving for it is worthwhile.

Both men considered themselves to be teachers.  Their teaching styles were different, but both believed that their players needed to understand why something was to be done a certain way, before they could properly perform.  Consequently, no detail was too small, whether it was Lombardi calculating the length of the first step the end should take to make a block or Landry making sure the center knew how many times the ball had to spin, so that when it was placed, the laces faced away from the kicker.  The result of their teaching was precise thinking by the players.  On those few occasions, when a player was faced with a situation that he could not think his way out of, Lombardi liked to say, “Well in that case, you react like a football player.”  Landry, the engineer, would finish his lectures by saying, “And if you do it my way, we’ll win.”

For both men, character mattered.  The values and habits of their daily behavior revealed who and what they were.  Lombardi’s character, in his own words: “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time.” Landry’s character led Hollywood Henderson, no saint during his playing years, to say: “Landry was easy to dislike. He was easy to criticize. He was easy to make fun of. But when it is all said and done, you want to be like him.


You could do a lot worse than to ask yourself WWLD…What Would Lombardi Do or What Would Landry Do.  Both men had an absolute intensity, focused on improvement.  How many of us can say that we have really ever tried to give 100% effort both physically and mentally to any given project.  It’s easy to imagine these two men, as father figures, looking at your performance and finding ways for you to improve.  Who can doubt that Lombardi gave every ounce of strength and all of his commitment to help his players…his family.  Who can doubt that there was purpose behind Landry’s discipline and lessons to learn from his emotional control.  If leadership is a sacred trust, these men understood that and did their best to honor it.  In this they were the same.  No man is perfect and there is no perfect coach, teacher, or parent, but there is value in striving for perfection.



Finding Resonance

Photo by: Pete foley

Small differences

2010 has been an amazing year for Stretch Exercise Eat.  The support of the true fans of SEE has had an incredible impact.  Here are some of the ~small~ differences you have made in 2010…

Total page views for 2009: 5,980

Total page views for 2010 (to date): 29,952

Average page views per day 2009: 16

Average page views per day 2010: 83

Busiest day 2010: 761.

Thank you for spreading the idea of SEE…seamlessly incorporating quality physical training into your daily regimen in a way that allows performance improvements to spill over into your career and personal life.

The Fab Five

These five posts got the most traffic this year.  Glad you liked them.  For those new to SEE, these posts will get you started and give you the flavor of this project.

(1) Flipping Switches and Turning Dials

(2) Consult Your Biological Clock to Optimize the Effectiveness of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

(3) How to Train Your Eyes Like a Kung Fu Master

(4) Protein Cookies That Don’t Suck

(5) Blanch Those Veggies

Bonus – 5 More Killer Posts

(1) Conquering Conditioning – How to Use the Pool to Improve Your Training

(2) The Past, Present, and Future of Interval Training

(3) Overtraining? Prospect Theory in the Gym.

(4) The Two Numbers That Could Save Your Life

(5) Trunk Strength – The Answer is Simple

Time to Say Thank You

Thank you for a wonderful 2010.  This year has been fun, inspiring, and creative and it keeps getting better thanks to your loyalty.  I can’t wait to move on to 2011, when we will explore a spectrum of new ideas that help you make improvements in the areas of personal performance that matter most to you.

The Myth of a Simple Free Dive

Photo by: Igor Liberti

The Hectometer Dive

I have previously written about William Trubridge here and here.

This week, William gave fans of free diving and dolphin lovers an early Christmas present.  On Monday, 13 December 2010, at Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island in the Bahamas, William completed the first unassisted free dive to 100 meters. That’s more than 30 stories down and more than 4 minutes without a breath.

William is the first human to swim to this depth and return to the surface unassisted.  To accomplish this amazing feat, he trains 5 to 7 hours a day, using yogic breathing exercises and mind control techniques.

The dive itself was not without difficulties.  The day before, he had completed a dive to 100m and returned, but failed to properly complete the surface protocol. Consequently, the dive was disqualified.  To add to the frustration, during that effort, he tweaked a muscle in his neck.

With rest and a dose of anti-inflammatories, he was ready to try again.  More difficulties were on the horizon, as a cold front had come in dropping temperatures and clouding the sky.  Then more trouble: At the end of my breathe-up, as I turned to start the dive, some of the air in my lungs was forced into my mouth, and from there into my stomach. For a split-second I contemplated continuing, but it would have been foolhardy, so I aborted and rolled back onto the surface with a groan of dismay.

After warming himself in his car, William made the decision to give the dive one more try.

Photo by: Igor Liberti

After roasting myself for twenty minutes, I returned to the platform. This time I spent less time breathing up in the water, and turned carefully to start the dive. After that moment I have few memories, as my body was operating on autopilot, as it has become accustomed to do in deep dives. I remember relaxing as I entered the free fall, and telling myself to ‘relax even the potential for contraction.’ I remember my depth alarm going off and pulling the tag from the bottom plate, 100 meters below the surface. I remember keeping my eyes half-closed and telling myself to ‘relax’ and ‘flow’ as I set off on the long swim back towards the light. I remember coming to the surface, reminding myself to concentrate on doing the protocol correctly in order to ensure a valid dive. And I remember erupting into celebration with my team the moment the judges displayed their white cards.

Overcoming these obstacles and making this world record happen was a demonstration of poise.  But, William wasn’t 100% satisfied.  Although he successfully completed the surfacing protocol.  He suffered a brief samba (loss of motor control) and his  hand shook as he made the OK sign.  He was fighting to remain lucid.  This was a successful dive, but not a smooth one.

So, on 17 December 2010 he tried again.  This time,conditions were much better  and William was relaxed.  He reached 101 meters on this dive.  After 4 minutes and 8 seconds, he surfaced and completed the protocol, breaking his own days old world record.  You can watch the video here.

On his facebook page, you can read William’s account of the 13 December 2010 dive here and his account of the 17 December 2010 dive here.

Project Hector

These dives were accomplished as part of Project Hector, Trubridge and Vertical Blue’s project to raise funds and awareness of the plight of Hector’s Dolphins.  Hector’s Dolphins are native to New Zealand and are the world’s smallest dolphins.  Due to human impact, particularly gill net fishing, their numbers are decreasing.  The overall population has been reduced by 75% in the last 30 years, and the Maui Dolphin subspecies, with less than 100 dolphins, is teetering on the verge of extinction.

You can still help.  Please watch this slide show by the World Wildlife Fund – New Zealand.  Also, stop by the Vertical Blue facebook store, where you can support Project Hector and own a piece of the dive, by buying one of the 100 individual meters and receive the actual meter of the glow-in-the-dark descent line used for the record dive, mounted in a spiral on a commemorative plaque, as well as a DVD of the dive, and an official team shirt.  Funds raised will be donated to the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust.

The Greater Meaning of Water

Also this week, I was notified by Sky Christopherson that my DVD of The Greater Meaning of Water, a feature film about free diving, was ready. Earlier this year, I had reserved the DVD, as a way to help the independent film.  The film is finished and has been well received (Audience Choice and Best Cinematography – Los Angeles All Sports Film Festival / 2010 Best Spiritual Film – Amsterdam 2010 / Honorable Mention – 2010 LA Movie Awards / Featurette screened and discussed during TEDx La Jolla)…Another unexpected Christmas present.

Amazing Performance: Lewis Gordon Pugh Swims Across Lake Pumori At The Foot Of Mount Everest

On May 22, 2010, Lewis Gordon Pugh swan 1 km across Lake Pumori at the foot of Mount Everest.  This swim took place at 5,300 meters of altitude, in water that was 2 degrees Centigrade, and lasted for 22m and 51s.  Pugh did this to raise public awareness of the receding glaciers in the Himalayas and the potential destabilizing impact both environmentally and politically of diminishing water resources in the region.

The Rough Cut From Reuters

On Average How Long Can A Person Survive In Cold Water?

Water Temp Time To Exhaustion Survival Time
(°F) (°C)
32.5° 0.3° < 15 minutes 45 minutes
32.5–40° 0.3–4.4° 15 – 30 minutes 30 – 90 minutes
40–50° 3.3–10° 30 – 60 minutes 1 – 3 hours
50–60° 10–15.6° 1 – 2 hours 1 – 6 hours
60–70° 15.6–21.1° 2 – 7 hours 2 – 40 hours
70–80° 21.1–26.7° 3 – 12 hours 3 hours – indefinite
> 80° > 26.7° Indefinite Indefinite

Table: Minnesota Sea Grant

Mind Shift

Pugh, considered one of the best cold water swimmer’s in the world, had to radically change his mindset to successfully complete this swim.  His preferred aggressive mental approach combined with a strong freestyle stroke led to exhaustion and near drowning.  With a calm mind and employing the more subdued breast stroke, he was able to complete the swim.

The TED Talk

More About Lewis Pugh

For more information about Lewis Pugh, you should check out the web page Lewis Gordon Pugh Time to Believe and his blog at posterous.  You may may also enjoy his 2008 Business Innovation Forum talk Utilizing Extremes.



Vertical Blue 2010

How to Live to be 100+