Can You Swim in Shade Balls?

Can You Swim in Shade Balls?

I bought 10,000 shade balls and tried to swim in them. They appear to act like a non-Newtonian fluid: rigid under high shear stress, but they flow like a liquid under low shear.
Get a signed shade ball by supporting Veritasium:

Receiving a shade ball:
1. Support Veritasium on any Patreon tier and enter your address
2. In about a week I will start sending out signed shade balls
3. I will cover all shipping costs but if things get really crazy I will prioritize existing Patreon supporters, higher tiers and US-based supporters (because shipping is a lot cheaper)

My sense was that swimming in shade balls would be difficult but still doable. This was roughly true for the single layer of shade balls. The shade balls slide past each other so they act like a liquid, albeit a viscous one owing to their significant inertia. It’s much more intense exercise and it’s also annoying to be bombarded with shade balls on all sides of your body, particularly your head. With multi-layer shade balls (as exists on much of LA reservoir) things get significantly more difficult. The balls bunch together and when you try to move through them quickly, they become more rigid, providing significant resistance to motion. This has the benefit that you can lie on them and as long as they stay trapped under you, you can float on them. But a little bit of motion causes them to move around and you sink through quickly.

Huge thanks to:
Jordan Schnabel and Cristian Carretero for filming and swimming and providing lifeguard services.
Raquel Nuno for filming and putting up with me.

Special thanks to Patreon supporters:
Donal Botkin, Michael Krugman, Ron Neal, Stan Presolski, Terrance Shepherd, Penward Rhyme and everyone who provided feedback on an early draft of this video.

Music from “Dubstep Mammoth 2” “Finally Here (Instrumental)” “The Last Arrival” “Sundown Love (Instrumental)”

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36 Responses

  1. SCiE Fie says:

    Over 1 million views in one hour…
    It’s working!
    next video: I’m sorry if you thought i said “shaved balls”.

  2. ERIK 72803 says:

    The thumbnail reminded me of that one scene from the incredibles

  3. Engineerisaac says:

    “I’m swimming and I’m getting a lot of balls in my face”

  4. Formant says:

    Now I’m going to make multiple patreon accounts and support you just so I can get loads of signed shade balls and put them in my pool as well.

  5. R Conn says:

    What are you doing?!

    Throw a badass shade-ball pool party!!!

  6. Rudmer Bosma says:

    Legend has it,
    Derek is still removing balls from his pool.

  7. bazoozoo says:

    “we will not promote swiming in shade balls” – yeah, sure, aha

    • AAFR 5 says:

      “We will show people what happens and therefor they shouldn’t probably swim in them” and it is not like it’s a normal product that you can purchase at the supermarket

    • PandemoniumMeltDown says:

      3-4$ a pop… 30-40k$ project… promote it all you want! I’m not buying, not for swiming in it 5 minutes then deciding what the hell let’s give them away o.O

  8. Andrew Prahst says:

    2:20 The synth riffs here are what got my like.

  9. Garrett Thompson says:

    “It’s going to end poorly I’m sure”

    *does it anyway*

    Science experiments in a nutshell

  10. Kevin says:

    You ever seen The Incredibles? Yea that one scene. If you know you know

    • Josh James says:

      Do we _really_ need 500+ of the exact same comment polluting the comments section?
      I mean, _COME ON…_ this is the *fifth* time I’ve had to read this, just scrolling down. STOP IT.

  11. Adeeb says:


    “I can swim, but I’m getting a lot of balls in my face”

    – Veritasium, 2019

  12. Centauri A says:

    Next YT Video:
    Holding an underwater conference meeting under shade balls!

  13. ShowwTime says:

    Incríveis? Aquela cena atirando as ” bolas ” que grudam nele

  14. Christopher Jones says:

    I found a kind of unorthodox style; swimming beneath the shade balls

    Was an orthodox style ever made?

  15. isabel Kree says:

    -Florida- L.A. man drowns in “shade balls” for a YouTube video

    • Eternal Reign says:

      Not quite as good as having your girlfriend shoot you in the chest while you hold an encyclopedia.

  16. Dave Arreola says:

    “I’m getting a lot of balls to my face” ooh YouTube ? he knew

  17. Abraham Lincoln says:

    “Can you swin in shade balls?”

    Answer may shock 0:00

  18. the crocodile says:

    Nobody :
    YouTube recommendation :
    A white man playing with black balls
    Me: that video isnt straight

  19. Leon Gargan says:

    “I’m swimming but…I *am* getting a lot of balls in the face…oh YouTube”


  20. Claye Weight says:

    Congrats on cracking the viral formula. Your last couple of videos have been going crazy

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