Pat and Taz Hit the Pool

November 9, 2009 8:00 PM

Posted in Competitors »
39 Comments » on this entry

Games09_TazRunningHill.jpgKnowing the possibility of a swim event in the 2010 Games, Hollis Molloy, owner and coach at CrossFit Santa Cruz put Tamaryn "Taz" Venter (shown) of CrossFit New Zealand, and Patrick "The Manimal" Barber through a workout that had both standard CrossFit elements and a significant pool element.

Pat took 4th place in the 2008 Games and set the fifth fastest time in this years sandbag sprint event. Taz was the top female at the 2009 Australasian qualifier. She also has some lifeguarding and triathlon experience.

These two, combined with the CFSC Affiliate Cup team, trained outside their comfort zone. It's impressive to watch Pat suffer so much in the pool and then dominate on deck. It shows that some specific training will be required if the 2010 Games do in fact have a water element.

CrossFit Santa Cruz Pool WOD video ... [wmv] [mov]

39 comments on this entry.

1. Tom Seryak wrote...

November 9, 2009 6:10 PM

Is this a hint? :) Personally, I can't swim slowly b/c otherwise I will drowned. I can only imagine how a water event at the Games would separate competitors...

2. MB wrote...

November 9, 2009 6:47 PM

As someone who started formal swimming instruction at 5 months old, and spent years in competitive swimming, I beg CrossFit not to have a swimming event at the CrossFit Games--next year, or any year. Swimming is vastly technique dependent. Competent swimmers can swim with extremely low energy output and still go faster than some inexperienced swimmers can go when working near 100% intensity and power output. I know ability to survive in water is one of the three skills Coach has mentioned as being fundamental to life as a human on this planet, but in my opinion fitness (defined as work capacity across broad time and modal domains) has very little to do with water survival, and even less to do with one's swimming speed.

Anyway, that's just my two cents.

3. Fras wrote...

November 9, 2009 7:11 PM

MB, I won't agree or disagree with what your saying. But isn't it true that the olympic lifts are also vastly technique dependent? An individual who isn't as "strong" as another could match the "stronger" individual in olympic lifting, due to superior technique.

4. Brandon wrote...

November 9, 2009 7:20 PM

Gotta agree with MB. Swimming isn't part of any of the crossfit main site wods either nor do they get you ready for a swimming event in any fashion. It's such a skilled activity that when not programmed into any wod's or mentioned the event would be totally dependant on someones prevous expierence in the sport. To me it makes about as much sense as a fighting event which i feel is a similarly important skill in life and fitness but in competition would be largely dependant on if the competitor would did crossfit wods in preparation had any fighting expierence.

5. Scott wrote...

November 9, 2009 7:41 PM

They should do an underwater grace capped by 100m swims to test water competency.

6. Scott wrote...

November 9, 2009 7:44 PM

They should do an underwater grace capped by 100m swims to test water competency.

7. olivia wrote...

November 9, 2009 7:59 PM

so hilarious!

Hollis - sorry I let Pat get away with that $%#@

8. Travis wrote...

November 9, 2009 9:57 PM

I've been racing in triathlons for 5 yrs., doing CrossFit and incorporating swimming into CrossFit WODs for 2+ yrs. I agree that technique is hugely important to all things CrossFit and that swimming is no exception. Competitors with experience swinging a hammer or an axe had a leg up on those who did not at the '09 games. Regardless, swinging a hammer and swimming are less specialized human skills than say the Snatch or ring Muscle-ups. To my knowledge, tire flips, slams and climbing over a wall have not been posted on the main site in a WOD but are awesome legitimate functional movements worth practicing in pursuit of fitness.
In my limited experience, high level swimmers that do not do CrossFit, don't crush CrossFit WODs with swimming. Just as a competitive weightlifter is not likely to set a record for "Elisabeth" without broadening their training.

9. myles wrote...

November 9, 2009 10:07 PM

We should add, Surfing, golf, horseshoes, table tennis, beer pong, poker, paragliding, arm wrestling, bowling, bouldering, snowboarding, rollerblading, sumo wrestling, karate, figure skating, football, and competitive eating and see who the real man and woman is.

10. neils wrote...

November 9, 2009 10:54 PM

This is the worst video I've seen. I couldn't even make it through to the end. What a joke.

11. sevan wrote...

November 9, 2009 11:07 PM


Sweet video! More Barber videos please, especially with you ripping on his ROM :)

12. bleedCF wrote...

November 10, 2009 3:55 AM

Be prepared for anything...this is crossfit...your boat may sink tomorrow in the middle of a lake, and your gonna have to survive somehow...not complain. On a side note...last year i wanted to see how far i could swim without stopping. I swam 36 laps, 1 mile, with zero swimming experience other than small stuff. Crossfit works.

November 10, 2009 5:47 AM

If CF does decide to include a swimming, safety should be paramount. Muscle cramps in the pool, regardless of how deep it is, will be significantly more dangerous than on land (say during or after a 7 mile run). There should probably be a limited number of athletes in the pool at once, too, to make it feasible to watch them all (unlike the mass exodus from the stadium during the run). If it is included, it should probably be implemented in a way similar to that in the video (if at all).

14. Kathleen wrote...

November 10, 2009 5:51 AM

How fun is that WOD, loved it! There is an infinite amount of exercise that can challenge any crossfitter in the pool/water: swimming, simply running from one end to the other, treading, etc. Plus, is it true that Coach is from Coronado?? Cheers to adding water!

15. ken c wrote...

November 10, 2009 6:38 AM

i don't know about "the manimal" anymore. i think pat's new nickname should be "speedo."

16. J.T. wrote...

November 10, 2009 10:56 AM

What an idiotic WOD. People doing speed powerlifting on a wet sloping concrete surface with bare feet. Jebus criminy.

17. MB replied to comment from Fras...

November 10, 2009 11:40 AM


You have a good point. Technique is a significant factor in both. I wrote my thoughts, but it got too long to post here. The executive summary is that I think olympic lifting is much more fundamental to human life and fitness than swimming. If you want to read more, I have posted my thoughts at

18. Rob wrote...

November 10, 2009 12:09 PM

"...Regularly learn and play new sports." --excerpt from World Class Fitness in 100 Words.

A swimming test is more than appropriate. The first CF Journal I ever read had an article on Total Immersion swimming, swimming is commonplace in the training of spec-ops personnel, the planet is mostly water.

Even with well developed technique or due to it, a real aquatic training session is brutal. The only workouts I've ever puked during have been in the pool, never the gym. Swimming at the Games is a perfect fit. Forget pools, the Pacific is right there by Aromas...

19. Rob wrote...

November 10, 2009 12:12 PM

"...Regularly learn and play new sports." --excerpt from World Class Fitness in 100 Words.

A swimming test is more than appropriate. The first CF Journal I ever read had an article on Total Immersion swimming, swimming is commonplace in the training of spec-ops personnel, the planet is mostly water.

Even with well developed technique or due to it, a real aquatic training session is brutal. The only workouts I've ever puked during have been in the pool, never the gym. Swimming at the Games is a perfect fit. Forget pools, the Pacific is right there by Aromas...

20. D-Wes wrote...

November 10, 2009 12:57 PM

Idiotic? Crossfit is no place for negativity. I'd love to see it. GPP. That's what it is.

21. Rob Corson wrote...

November 10, 2009 1:47 PM

Hollis, great work in preparing for the unknown and unknowable.
Pat, crap ROM on the DB push press.

22. Matty B wrote...

November 10, 2009 1:58 PM

Lucas you may be the fastest swimmer in the bunch, but you still have a horrible stroke. hahaha, lazy at best.

nice video hollis!

23. Chubbs wrote...

November 10, 2009 2:07 PM

Heck, why not put a swimming event in? Actually, maybe the Nor-Cal qualifier should involve a little "actual" shoveling instead of that "virtual shoveling..." You get me? Make the Nor-Cal athletes dig the pool, on the Ranch, at the qualifiers, then two months later, do a swimming WOD, then throw a bomb-ass pool party at the conclusion of the first day!

Now that, is functional! You test functional fitness by requiring people to dig the pool (I know you folks outside in the Southwest and South don't experience this often, but shoveling snow everyday during the winter in the NW is a great WOD), then have a swimming event, then in the end, everybody can relax in the pool with a cold beer!

What do you think?

24. MB replied to comment from Rob...

November 10, 2009 3:10 PM


There's a slight difference between what you need to do in pursuit of elite fitness and how you design a test to determine the fittest person on the planet. There's nothing wrong with training in an event that favors specialists in order to improve your own fitness. But you don't want to use events that favor specialists when you are testing for the best overall generalist.

25. Russ Greene wrote...

November 10, 2009 3:28 PM

Almost everything we do is highly skill dependent. If we avoided highly skill dependent exercises, it wouldn't be Crossfit.

Many of the events in the 09 games featured movements that never or rarely show up in the mainsite WOD. Hammering steaks, sprinting with sand bags, and crawling up hills for example.

Sure a swimming event would favor swimmers, just as gymnastic events favor people with gymnastics backgrounds. This would only present an unfair advantage if the 2010 Games didn't involve many other movements and events to balance it out. You can be sure that the 2010 Games will have many events that will challenge swimming specialists.

26. Chad Cilli wrote...

November 10, 2009 3:44 PM

I think a swimming event would be awesome. I mix swimming into my training all the time. I've done Angie, Helen, Murph, and various other no name WODs with swimming. It forces you to control your breathing and swimming is a great full body movement.

27. Fras wrote...

November 10, 2009 5:51 PM


I'm interested in reading your write-up on O-lifts and swimming, but the link won't work for me.


Totally agree that safety would be more of an issue with athletes cramping in the middle of a pool. I imagine it would be difficult to control for this while maintaining the level of difficulty for the event.

28. MB replied to comment from Fras...

November 10, 2009 7:03 PM


Hmmm, that's strange. It works for me. If you still can't get it to work, just go to It's the most recent post.

29. sturkie wrote...

November 10, 2009 7:15 PM

i think crossfit gets u ready for alot i wouldnt say anything or everything, i have been kickboxing for many years if u take crossfitter and put them in a ring they will get killed period!
swimming is fine,but lets not kid ourselfs,just because u crossfit dont mean u can fight lol.

30. Tim Carr wrote...

November 11, 2009 6:25 AM

Castro was/is a SEAL. . .frankly I'm surprised that they haven't had a swimming event yet. Competitors also need to be ready for tire flipping, rope climbing and that strong man heavy ball thing.

Think about it, they could drop $15k and slam dunk a pool right there on that farm or. . .load the 100 competitors on buses and take them to a high school with a pool. It's wouldn;t be that tough.

Rob Orlando comes from a strong man backround and he makes those stone balls used in strong man comps. I'm sure the evil wheels are turning in the planner's heads.

31. Craig Massey wrote...

November 11, 2009 12:03 PM

Not enough research peoples.

CF WODs have included swimming until Coach heard enough complaints from the pool-less and dropped it.
So if you have a pool that you can lift at, I'd practice my dog paddling so that you at least know what being wet and lifting feels like.
The entire field of human movement is up for grabs, and that may indeed include figure skating if the WOD formulators decide it's a useful test of fitness.
Good luck trying to out-guess them.

32. Julius Magnusson wrote...

November 11, 2009 3:47 PM

That's a very insightful and constructive comment, Julie C.

33. Fras wrote...

November 11, 2009 4:04 PM


Just read your blog post; you make good points. I agree with what you're saying in that incorporating a swim into a CF games WOD would definitely be a challenge, and would probably be unnecessary (considering the other available tests of cardio-resp. endurance, which you have mentioned).

When bringing up the comparison, I was by no means implying that the incorporation of O-lifts in WODs would result in the same problems that a swim event would (ie. that olympic lifting is 'too technique dependent' - it is clearly one of the best tests of all-round fitness available). I just thought I'd bring up the comparison as a potential defense of the argument that swimming is too technique dependent.

34. Fras wrote...

November 11, 2009 4:09 PM

Just wanted to edit my post above:

...I thought I'd bring up the comparison as a potential defense of the argument that swimming ISN'T too technique dependent...taken in the context of a competition that includes olympic lifting, which is also very technique dependent.

Not that this is necessarily my point of view either. Just thought it was a interesting point to make.

35. kris kepler wrote...

November 11, 2009 4:27 PM

the world is coming to an end in 2012 anyways.....

36. Julie C replied to comment from kris kepler...

November 12, 2009 12:22 AM

Lol! Kris, I did hear that!

37. Donna wrote...

November 12, 2009 11:25 AM

Hey Pat, nice budgie smugglers. Did you bring them to NZ?

38. Tinkerbell wrote...

November 14, 2009 10:24 AM

I'm so surprised to see so many people against the idea of swimming being integrated into WODs or the Games. The entire reason I crossfit is because I love a good challenge. It's awesome to be a part of a community that thrives on pushing boundaries and breaking new ground. Where has this naysaying mentality come from?

This argument of swimming being a specialized skill or dangerous is pretty shaky. As others have mentioned lots of movements in crossfit are "specialized." Muscle-ups are no bag of lilies. Plus, have you seen the clips from last years snatch event? People are pushing PRs, barely holding hundreds of pounds of weight overhead, falling over, hitting themselves on the head with bars carrying said hundreds of pounds. And people are complaining about swimming?

Seems like the only people complaining are folks that are not confident in their ability to handle a swimming WOD. In which case it seems like a better idea would be to stop complaining, hop into a pool, and attack that skill until you improve. Isn't that what crossfit is all about?

39. Guy wrote...

November 21, 2009 12:35 AM

Tinkerbell, I think everyone agrees that learning to swim well is a good thing for anyone to do, and if we had the opportunity, we would. I know I'd love to have regular swimming workouts.

The problem is that there's a pretty big barrier to entry: a pool.

Every other event can be reasonable trained/prepared for at any gym or at home using bodyweight or regular tools. Asking people to train enough to swim competitively is a little bit overboard (ha), I think. Those with a swimming background basically get a free event - with even more of an advantage than Everett has in O lifting events or the firemen had in the stake pounding - while those with pool access at least have a fighting chance. Meanwhile, people in the not so urban areas who may not have access to a pool are guaranteed to finish near the end.

I guess that's fine in an informal event, but people are traveling from all over the world for this. And in 2010 it'll be their third trip. It just makes sense to leave it out, unless there's some kind of way to make it more fair to all... I suppose one could come up with some sort of underwater weight retrieval element to a workout - that could be kind of fun but without giving an ex high school swimmer too massive an advantage. I haven't swum in ten years but I could still handle something like that.