Thursday, October 27, 2011

Joining Jungle Jim In His Swim Drill

Vijch posted on Facebook about his discovery of his dad’s collection of Tarzan films on reels. Last week, Sheila Taormina had us do Weissmuller/Tarzan drills in the water – swimming freestyle with our head above water. It was a tough drill to do well, as it required strong upper-body strength.
Johnny Weissmuller was the definitive Tarzan (akin to Sean Connery as James Bond) who invented his trademarked, ululating, Tarzan yodel. The undefeated, Olympic champion (five gold and one bronze medals) and multiple-world record holder (67) swung his way onto our screens and hearts as the educated jungle man. Unlike Vijch’s rare find, I bought my collection of Tarzan DVDs from Watching Weissmuller swim was like suspecting the film was speeded up. How could one swim so fast with their head surfaced?
One of interesting film facts was that on ‘Tarzan Finds A mate’, his co-star Maureen O’Sullivan was nude for two full minutes under water. Her co-star had his manhood shrouded by a loincloth. An Olympic swimmer named Josephine McKim temporarily replaced Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane during the skinny-dipping scene. With Maureen back being Jane she gets out of the water and has to tell Cheetah multiple times to "Give it to me, Give it to me." This scene caused the anger of all the prudes of the depression era. It was mind-boggling to wonder how the censors reacted to this version compared to Bo Derek’s ‘Tarzan The Apeman’.

Weissmuller also assumed the role of Jungle Jim on television after his cinematic efforts. In the 1924 Olympics, his 100-metres freestyle time of 58.6 seconds became the new world record! It was thanks to my late-father, Roland that I was incepted into the world of celluloid and the swimming and athletic prowess of Weissmuller. My Dad was an excellent, self-taught, swimmer and painter (artist) - unfortunately, these two abilities did not find their fluid flow towards me. I am pretty much a terra firma and crayon sort of guy. Live and learn!

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