Thursday, February 25, 2010

Video: Giant Human Hamster Walks In Water Ball

I must resort to internet speak to adequately describe this video: OMG ROFL!!1! This is one of the funniest (appropriate) videos I’ve seen in a long time. A woman, in what appears to be the Netherlands, attempts to walk in a huge aquatic hamster ball while wearing an orange hamster suit.

The woman is zipped into the hamster ball and then it is filled with air by attaching a leaf blower to a one-way valve on the side. There is also a thin safety line attached to the ball – to ensure they can reel her back in – because it’s very difficult to keep your balance while walking on water in a giant hamster ball. Watch the video below:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rob Aquatics Announces Summer Open Water Tour

rob aquatics summer open water tour

Last night, I got an email with a big announcement from Rob Aquatics. This summer, Rob Dumouchel will be taking his blog and his enthusiasm for open water swimming on tour across this great nation. Can Masters swimmers go on tour? Rob says why not!

You can read more about Rob’s big announcement on his blog, where he talks about turning the vision into reality.

With the support of blueseventy as a corporate sponsor, Rob’s busy summer kicks off with the USMS 1 Mile Open Water Championships at Lake Norman in Charlotte, NC on May 29th, and will wrap up with a September 11th swim at Big Shoulders (5k) in Chicago, IL.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympic Gold Medalist, Matthew Mitcham, To Appear At 2010 Gay Games

matthew mitcham gay games 2010

Openly gay Australian diver, and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, Matthew Mitcham will make an appearance at the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Germany. According to news from PinkPaper.com and the Gay Games Blog, Mitcham will be joining over 5,300 registered athletes who will converge on Cologne, Germany this summer.

Mitcham will fly courtesy of German airline Lufthansa (hence the promo photo), and will make several appearances during the international festival.

Lucky for those hoping to win the diving competition, Mitcham is not planning to compete.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

“Adrenaline Yawn” Possible Cause Of Apolo Ohno’s Pre-Race Faux Pas

adrenaline yawn

Do you ever yawn before a race? An article found on Yahoo! Sports titled “Why does Apolo Anton Ohno yawn before his races?” re-kindled my interest in an anecdotal phenomenon from my own competitive career: the adrenaline yawn.

Prior to Ohno’s bronze medal performance in the men’s 1000m short track speedskating event, Apolo was caught yawning on camera. Martin Rogers described how “television viewers were stunned by the American’s apparently lackadaisical approach to the race” (source). Ohno replied to the accusation, saying that it helps him get oxygen in and get the nerves out. As for myself, sitting at home watching the event, I wasn’t thrown by the display – I knew the yawn was much more intense and could only be a so-called adrenaline yawn.

What is an adrenaline yawn? During morning weights in college, our coach had the uncanny ability to spot a yawn from across the gym. He would jest, “I hope that’s an adrenaline yawn!” This expression, as it turns out, may have stronger roots in biochemistry than I would have suspected.

The Center for Non-Verbal Studies defines a yawn as “a sudden, deep inhalation of air accompanied by an open mouth, tightened cheek muscles, eye closure, and tearing” (source). The center also points out research linking yawning to situations involving slight fear, stress, and conflict. From a biochemical point of view, these situations trigger the release of hormones and neurotransmitters that have been linked to yawning: including serotonin, dopamine, glutamic acid, and nitric oxide (source).

Dopamine was identified as “a precursor to norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and then epinephrine (adrenaline) in the biosynthetic pathways for these neurotransmitters” (source). So while tense, stressful situations can be observed to increase yawning – one chemical cause behind the display appears to be an increased level of dopamine.

One study, published in the Journal of Neural Transmission in 1990, supports that increased production of dopamine leads to yawning. The article titled “Potentiation of yawning responses to the dopamine receptor agonists B-HT 920 and SND 919 by pindolol in the rat” showed that subcutaneous injection of dopamine D2-receptor agonists induced yawning behavior in rats, and that the effect was increased with the addition of the beta blocker pindolol.

So where adrenaline may not be causing a yawn behavior in stressful situations, its chemical precursor dopamine may be contributing to an increase in socially inappropriate yawns during events often associated with heightened arousal rather than boredom.

{yawn} for the record: I yawned a total of 35 times while writing this blog post. It’s quite contagious even through text!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Construction Photos Of Speedo’s New International HQ

Attention fans of before-and-after construction photos (that’s me!), Speedo International recently posted some progress pics of their new international headquarters located in the prestigious NG2 Business Park in Nottingham. Check out the growing album on the Speedo International page on Facebook.

You can help name the building by submitting your comments on the Wall section of Speedo International on Facebook.

Some suggestions so far: Atlantis, Speedo Power House, Chlorine Club, and the Nautilus.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Michael Phelps Promo Appearance In Vancouver: Did He Sign Her Banana?

michael phelps banana

Although Michael Phelps was a “fish out of water” during his appearance at the Winter Games in Vancouver, he was media-popular as ever! His appearance, which included plenty of promotional opportunities, did allow for Michael to mingle with his wintry Olympic counterparts and even catch a hockey game.

From the AP article by Beth Harris found via NBCOlympics.com:

“The chaos continued outside when Phelps climbed into a red bobsled at a photo opportunity across the street while the crowd pressed against a metal railing for a better view. He later presented a watch from his sponsor to Alexandre Bilodeau, who won Canada’s first gold medal of these games in moguls.” (source)

The bobsled photo op was reminiscent of the Michael Phelps And Massimiliano Rosolino Omega Watch Photo Op from last August – and although the sponsor is not named in the AP article, Phelps is rocking his bright orange 2009 Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M dive watch in the picture.

Phelps fans were in full force throughout Michael’s public appearances. One woman even held a sign that said “Will you sign my banana?” which had the piece of fruit attached. The AP article provided no word on whether or not the banana received the autograph, leaving us with an agonizing cliff-hanger: Did he sign her banana?

It wasn’t all schmoozing though, read the full AP article as it appears on NBCOlympics.com for Michael’s comments on his new cross-training program.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Phelps Signs With Under Armour For Dryland Endorsements


Michael Phelps – By signing an endorsement deal with Under Armour, Phelps’ image will directly compete with Speedo’s dryland and apparel products.

I just heard via @Phelps_Phive that Michael Phelps has signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Under Armour. Read the article from USA Today where Under Armour senior vice president Steve Battista says that the endorsement will focus on Michael’s dryland apparel and footwear, because Under Armour doesn’t currently have a swimsuit line.

However, Battista hints that they’re not ruling anything out in a deal that is estimated to be worth around $5 million.

By signing Phelps, Under Armour is sure to attract swimmers who have not been specifically targeted by the non-aquatic apparel company. However, because Speedo has their own line of dryland goodies, this deal surely won’t do anything to help the sales of Speedo brand shorts, shoes, backpacks, and other athletic apparel.

Look for Michael Phelps in an Under Armour commercial set to air during coverage of the NFL combine, and read the full article from USA Today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How To Further Unite Swimming And Diving: Track And Field Model


Alma College – In 2009, Spencer Johnson set school records in the 50 Free, 100 Free, 100 Back, 200 Back, 200 Medley, 400 Medley, and 3m Diving. Who says there aren’t cross-over athletes?

I’m writing this entry in response to the editorial “Separate Swimming From Diving” by John Craig as it appears online at Swimming World. I always enjoy editorials, and progressive thinking when it comes to swimming and other aquatic sports – and this recent editorial was no exception.

First, I would like to voice my agreement with John’s primary thesis: “The only thing swimming and diving have in common is that both require water. They are completely unalike in terms of the athleticism involved” (source). This is undisputed, and is reinforced by the fact that swimming and diving have independent governing bodies and national championships at the senior level.

However, moving further down the article, I disagree with the notion that because two things are different they should be held apart. The main reasons cited in support of a schism are challenging but don’t fully necessitate a divide. In response to the argument that most high school budgets don’t allow for a separate diving coach, and that most swimming coaches know next to nothing about diving, I would suggest that swimming coaches faced with coaching divers should take the initiative to learn more about the sport.

Because diving scores do impact the team result in high school and college, a coach who chooses to ignore an entire section of the team should be prepared for a detrimental outcome. If you think of diving as an event within the sport of swimming, it seems absurd to ignore this group of athletes. A coach with next to no knowledge of coaching distance wouldn’t brush their milers off so quickly – they would start reading!

Just as the coach with a limited budget must coach both sprinters and distance swimmers, so too must a coach attend to his or her divers. It is true that budget concerns limit accessibility to diving coaches and diving facilities, but separating the sports would limit accessibility to diving across the board. Pools would be built without diving facilities in order to cut costs, and diving would go the way of college gymnastics – where just a handful of extremely well funded programs bother hosting teams.

Interestingly, John Craig’s reference to track and field sparked my proposed solution. He hit the nail on the head when he compared the swimming & diving partnership to the integration of track & field sports. Here are some similarities between track & field and swimming & diving:

  • Seemingly different sports are grouped based on their playing surface
  • Success in events determined by entirely different sets of athletic traits
  • Facility cost grows immensely when diversifying types of events offered
  • Coaches limited knowledge of dissimilar events requires support staff

But what has track & field done that swimming & diving has not? Embraced the diversity of events with the creation of a new type of event: The Decathlon! Events comprised of multiple disciplines blur the lines between what we consider a “track” or “field” athlete.

John Craig writes: “No one would ever mistake a distance runner for a champion shot putter, or vice versa” but fails to acknowledge the champion decathlete who competes in both the shot put and 1500 meter run (among 8 other events).

Food for thought, by creating a swimming & diving biathlon, you award the talents of those cross-over athletes who may never be the best swimmer or diver individually – but they could be the best of both simultaneously. There is a scoring model in place in the decathlon that accounts for distance, height, and time. It would be easy to combine swimming and diving scores with a standard formula.

Why not take a lesson from the Winter Olympics where the Nordic combined athletes blur the lines between cross-country skiing and ski jumping. But the only things these sports have in common are the skis!! I think that’s part of the fun! Kudos to the Renaissance Man who can master them both. Score well on the ski jump and earn yourself a one-minute head start in cross-country skiing.

I can see you’re skeptical. But, when you look at the biathlon, triathlon, pentathlon, heptathlon, and decathlon – you see that the aquatic sports are sorely under represented, and that combining elements of swimming & diving into an aquatic biathlon might not be so far fetched. I believe that, although this proposal is pretty out there, we should always look to progressive forward thinking rather than to the chopping block.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The First African-American National Champion In USA Diving History

CBSSports.com wire reported that, along with his victory in Men’s 1m Springboard at the USA Diving Winter National Championships last week, Michael Wright also became the first black diver to win a national title.

According to Meet Control at DiveMeets.com, Wright took an early lead in the first rounds of the final event (Photo from AP Photo via DayLife.com) doing a 2 1/2 tuck list doubling up on twisters. The Winter National title is a big improvement over Wright’s 6th place finish at last summer’s AT&T; National Diving Championship.

Michael Wright dives for Tennessee and is currently redshirting the 2009-2010 season.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Follow Team USA And Sign Up To Receive Updates From The USOC

The Winter Olympics are in full swing in Vancouver, Canada. If you want to get the most out of watching the Winter Games, sign up to receive news and results straight from Team USA and the US Olympic Committee.

Although swimming and diving aren’t featured in the Winter Games, sports fans will still be interested to learn that you can now follow Team USA directly by subscribing to TeamUSA.org. Team USA will also use this e-mail list to send updates on the upcoming London 2012 Games.

Swimmers understand that traditionally non-revenue Olympic sports need our support. I’ve provided links in the sidebar to the right that will take you to the official Team USA donation website (support.teamusa.org) where you can learn about different ways to donate.

Bloggers, visit teamusanews.org for a social media press release that includes widgets and banners that you can use on your own site to promote Team USA.

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