TV and Hollywood film legend Will Smith and comedian Chris Rock have today announced that they will both compete as a team in a swimrun event this summer.
Following their very public spat at the 94th Academy Awards last weekend, the pair have decided that by training and racing for what is widely acknowledged as one of the toughest multisporting events in the world, it would be the perfect way to “heal their rift, build a lifelong bond and come out of the experience as not just better people, but as better partners, fathers, sons, colleagues and friends.
“The Olympic values are excellence, respect and friendship,” they added. “This will be our own Olympics, following those exact same values.”
What happened at the 2022 Oscars?
Very few will have escaped the shocking footage at the start of this week that saw Smith walk up on stage during the live annual Academy Awards and hit Rock in the face. The latter had just made a distasteful joke about Smith’s wife’s shaved head – Jada Pinkett Smith was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease alopecia areata in 2018.
Smith, who although initially appeared to laugh at the joke, swiftly walked up on stage and swung at Rock. Returning to his seat, the three-time Oscar nominee then proceeded to shout out to Rock using several profanities.
Smith went on to win the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father to multiple Grand Slam winners Serena and Venus Williams, in the film King Richard, making a tearful apology for his behaviour during his acceptance speech.
When will the swimrun take place?
The Ödyssey swimrun race takes place on 17 July 2022, on Casco Bay Islands, in Portland, Maine, and sees teams of two swim and run a total distance of 35km – 27km running and 8km of swimming.
The swims are in the salty bay waters of the Atlantic, while the runs will feature a mixture of trails, roads, sand, and rock scrambling… all while tethered together for what could be 7hrs+.
What to expect in a swimrun
220’s editor Helen Webster has competed in several swimrun events across Europe and has this advice for Smith and Rock: “Communication and teamwork are key in swimrun, so Smith and Rock will have to work together in training and on race day to make sure they have their strategy nailed.
“Both performers are at the top of their Hollywood game, so they won’t want to risk the embarrassment not completing the event!”
“In swimrun you have to be able to support your partner through the highs and lows of a long day of racing. I don’t know how strong each of them is in terms of their swimming and running, but the more competent in each discipline will have to take the lead to support the other throughout the day.
“You also have to be within 10 metres of each other at all times during the race or risk a DSQ. Swimrun isn’t just about being able to swim and run well, though – the partner dynamics make a huge difference.
“The two will have to be patient with each other and know when to use humour or more aggressive tactics to spur each other on.
“In the races I’ve done, I’ve seen lifelong friendships form and I’ve seen teams bicker all the way round the course – it will be interesting to see which way these guys go!”
Pick a team name
Throughout their training, Smith and Rock will be raising money for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (fundraising website yet to be set up at time of print).
The pair are also asking for help deciding on a name for their team. Whoever picks the winning name will be invited to meet Smith and Rock at the race. Again, details TBC.
Top image: Joel Page/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images