Google seems to think that if you want to go from New York to Dublin your best bet is to swim across the Atlantic Ocean to France. Notice not just that it explicitly suggests that you swim, but even if you swam the path is not really very efficient. Why go to Le Havre when you can get off at Brest, or why not just go straight towards Lisbon? You could even leave from Nova Scotia rather than Boston and shave off a few more swimming miles which are obviously slower than driving.

But what really struck me was that the time prediction for the whole trip was 29 days and 19 hours, even swimming at a steady speed 24 hours a day, that’s pretty fast. So, being the geek I am, I decided to calculate what speed Google expects you to swim at to make it in that amount of time.

The total distance of the trip is 4,309 miles, the ocean bit is 3,462 miles (5571km) which leaves us with 847 miles (1363km) on ground. Assuming a relatively conservative average speed of 90km/h for the ground bit, that’s 15h of the trip. 29d 4h to go. 29d 4h is 696h which means that to cover 5,571km in 696h you’d have to swim at exactly 8km/h. Yeah, just in case you’re wondering that’s pretty fast. Michael Phelps, current world record holder (as of 14 Aug, 2004) of 400m medley, swims that distance in 4:08, which turns out to be 5.76km/h. If you could swim at 8km/h you’d be able to set the record at a unbeatable 3:00. To swim the 5571km at 5.76km/h takes 40d

I’m assuming the swim part is a joke, a sort of filler while Google befriends the transport industry and includes train, airplane and bus timetables within the results, because it’s such a useless piece of information when you’re looking for directions. Leaving aside the whole issue of swimming across the ocean, it might seem to make sense when you consider rivers or lakes inside cities but no one would seriously consider swimming as a route alternative: You can cross the river through that bridge 100m down the road, or you can swim and save 3 minutes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.