On the subject of Matthew Pinsent and his lung capacity and/or VO2 capacity.
Stephen Seiler has a piece on his web site (as per Byron's link)where he describes Olaf Tufte's physiological performance as unique and he quotes (among other things) his VO2 (max) figure as 7.1 litres/min. I sent him an email, to which he kindly replied, about whether this was true. In Tim Foster's book, he describes Pinsent's lung capacity as 8.5 litres, but I was told by a GB squad member at the time, that 8.5l/min was actually Pinsent's VO2 (max) figure, VO2 (max) being the maximum rate at which he can absorb/use oxygen, as opposed to his lung capacity. Stephen Seiler's reply was that he was sure that a VO2 (max) 8.5l/min can not have been correct as this is so far ahead of anything ever measured for any other athlete. As Stephen Seiler is an expert in this area, I obviously accepted what he said, although he conceded that it was probably not correct to describe Tufte as 'unique' in this respect.
However, recently, I heard Pinsent on the radio and it was mentioned to him that Peter Reed had now exceeded his lung capacity 'record'. Pinsent instantly said that it wasn't his lung capacity that was so extraordinary, it was his capacity to absorb oxygen (i.e his VO2 (max), although he didn't say what the figure was. So I wonder what Pinsent's figure VO2(max)really is (was)? Can it really be 8.5l/min?
As an aside, I 've never seen figures given for other outstanding rowers/scullers, such as Rob Waddell, so even if Pinsent's is the largest known, it may be just that other athletes have kept their figures to themselves.