Chinese Swimming: The Mass Way

pre-olympics swimming in Beijing

I’m watching the Beijing Olympics and typing this post at the same time. The mental strain of multitasking is tearing my brain to shreds. Since swimming seems to be the name of the game today I pulled this propaganda pamphlet off the shelf to share the joys of water sports in Communist China with you. I bought it at a pinko-commi bookstore downtown some years back.

The booklet is called “Swimming in New China – The Mass Way” and it’s surprisingly free of bad English. In fact the language is pristine and very convincing. It sticks to the message. The very first page claims that Chairman Mao swam for more than an hour covering almost 15 kilometers at age 73.

This is remarkable considering that the Olympic officials have just awarded a world record to Kitajima Kosuke of Japan who swam 100m Breaststroke in 58.91 seconds. At this speed Kosuke would need 2.5 hours to cover 15 kilometers while Chairman Mao took just “more than an hour” to swim the same distance in Yangtze river.

The Chairman Mao’s example was rather effective in mobilizing the masses judging by the blurry photographs of red youth swimming across muddy looking rivers. Particularly telling is the photograph of a Tsingtao beach. If you look closely you’ll notice that everyone is standing. Perhaps there isn’t enough room for everyone to lie down in the sand.

Chairman Mao SwimmingChinese militia crossing a riverExtremely crowded Chinese beach.

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