When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Swimming

An outdoor swimming pool on a hot day

The hot weather is upon us again, and there are few better ways to get some respite from the heat than to take a good swim. So imagine my delight upon discovering this pool locator by The Swimmer’s Guide! The Swimmer’s Guide has been compiling data on swimming pools around the world since 1996, and as of today, they have 24 475 swimming pools in their database.

It would be really cool to swim in them all (because hey, have swimwear, will travel!), which reminds me of someone who would.

A swimming coach and a French public pool

Pi and Mamaji

A young Pi and his swimming coach, Mamaji. Image credit: 20th Century Fox

In Life of Pi, Piscine (also known as Pi) Molitor Patel learnt how to swim from Francis, a close family friend, who he affectionately calls Mamaji. Instead of buying souvenirs when he travels, Mamaji made it a point to swim in local pools in every location, having been a swimming champion in his youth. After having swam in many locations, his favorite was the Piscine Molitor swimming pool in Paris, and that’s how Pi got his name.

One day, Mamaji said to my father, that of all the pools in the world, the most beautiful was a public pool in Paris. That the water there was so clear, you could make your morning coffee with it. That a single swim there changed his life.

– Pi Patel

The Piscine Molitor in Paris during summer 2015.

Here’s how the Piscine Molitor looks like today. No wonder Mamaji fell in love.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Before I was born, he said; ‘If you want your son to have a clean soul, you must take him one day to swim in the Piscine Molitor.’ I never understood why my father took this so much to heart, but he did, and I was named ‘Piscine Molitor Patel’.

– Pi Patel

Of swimming, pools and math

Pi and Mamaji's swimming lesson

Not your conventional swimming lesson. Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Now, don’t go packing your swimming gear and passport just yet! Not before we look at the numbers, of course. Given Mamaji’s love for swimming and his competitive track record, how long would he take to swim the lengths of all these swimming pools combined?

Now, the average competitive swimmer can reach speeds of about two meters per second. Pools come in many shapes and dimensions, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that all of the pools in The Swimmer’s Guide are 50 meters in length in accordance to Olympic measurements.



Multiply the time in seconds by the length of the pool to know the time taken. So, one pool would take 100 seconds.

And now when we multiply it by the number of pools in the database, here’s what we get.



So, if Mamaji were to go on a swimming spree, it’ll take 2 447 500 seconds! Let’s write that number of seconds in minutes. A minute has 60 seconds. So to convert seconds to minutes, we divide the number of seconds by 60.



Okay, that same amount is equivalent to 40 791.67 minutes! How about in hours? An hour has 60 minutes, so divide the amount in minutes by 60.



And there we go! 679.86 hours! Let’s see that in days. A day has 24 hours, so this time, we divide the amount in hours by 24. Which leaves us with 28.33 days.



And there we have it! Judging from how Pi turned out, Mamaji is certainly one excellent swimming coach, whose lessons are life-saving! (Literally, in Pi’s case.) And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the pool!

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