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I'm confused on why the last problem did not utilize the Pythagorean theorem to find the actual speed traveled by the swimmer and the actual distance traveled, but for this problem, we did both... I solved the last problem (#46) using the a^2 + b^2 approach and found the angle using the inverse tangent, but my answer was wildly different. Any insight into how to reconcile this in my brain?

Hi brysongrondel, thanks for the question. I understand that something here is confusing, but it isn't clear to me which question/solution you're comparing with, since #46 isn't really comparable to this one... I notice you asked another question, so I'll follow up there.