Sunday, August 22, 2010

SKINS Compression And Therapeutic Wear Boasts Scientific Credibility

Be Skeptical.

Athletes of all levels are always on the lookout for the next best thing in sporting equipment, hoping to find a new piece of technology that promises better performance and quicker recovery without adding hours to their training schedule. Now, athletes and coaches should know that there is no magic pill for success – and breakthroughs in technology will occur as incremental improvements based on existing theories.

With this in mind, I recommend a healthy dose of skepticism when evaluating products that claim to boost performance in some way.

Things to look for when evaluating scientific claims:
1.) Has the product been independently tested, or are the claims based on “in house” studies alone?
2.) Do experiments control for the placebo effect?
3.) Are the proposed effects based on testable scientific theories?
4.) Do the proposed effects violate the principle laws of physics?*

*This might seem humorous, but you’d be surprised how many “breakthrough products” out there are based on magic, plasma fields, holograms, and free-energy transfer.

A Little Honesty Goes A Long Way.

Ok, so this post so far has been sort of a round-about way of getting to a point I wanted to make about SKINS compression and therapeutic apparel. I wanted to elicit the context of dishonest sporting goods in order to show the stark contrast between quackery claims and the full disclosure of evidence-based research conducted on SKINS.

Check out the SKINS Labs section of skinsusa.com. You’ll notice, in addition to product claims, a reference list pointing to actual peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. These articles aren’t written by SKINS product testers finding ways to market their equipment, but by researchers in the field with their own interests in the topic.

Take the article “The Effects of Wearing Lower-Body Compression Garments During Endurance Cycling” for example. Published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, the funding for this study came from the Queensland Academy of Sport Centre of Excellence, and not from the SKINS manufacturers. This is an important point because it eliminates a bias for the researchers to confirm claims made by the people signing their checks.

Looking at the same article, I pulled up a digital copy of the original publication to see if there were any erroneous claims made on the SKINS website.

The Effects of Wearing Lower-Body Compression Garments During Endurance Cycling

The SKINS site claims that the “reseults (sic) showed increases in muscle oxygenation economy and improvements in cycling economy” (source).

The original article conclusion stated that “LBCG [lower body compression garments] were observed to elicit likely practically significant improvements in [power output] at [anaerobic threshold] during an incremental test and possible practically significant increases in muscle oxygenation economy during a cycling [1-hour time trial]” (Scanlan et al. 2008).

Ok, so in short, the SKINS website is making accurate claims about their products, and does not generalize beyond what can be backed-up with independent research!

Public Response.

This “academic honesty” or “full disclosure” on the part of SKINS has gotten the attention of national organizations, such as USA Triathlon, who use SKINS as their official supplier of compression and therapeutic wear. I also have unconfirmed information that the USA Swimming National Team uses/will uses SKINS as recovery aids.

Several SKINS products are available at Kast-A-Way Swimwear.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lewis Pugh’s Lecture About His Mind-Shifting Everest Swim

lewis pugh mt. everest swim

In October 2009, I blogged about Lewis Pugh’s upcoming swim at Mt. Everest. Now, almost a year later, I finally stumbled across this great video lecture of Lewis Pugh himself giving his reaction to the swim.

lewis pugh mt. everest swim

lewis pugh mt. everest swim

The video is from a TED Conference, which started out as a symposium for Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED), but has evolved into a small nonprofit and platform for Ideas Worth Spreading. The full transcript and video are available from TED.com, here is a small excerpt:

“I swam as quickly as I could for the first hundred meters, and then I realized very, very quickly, I had a huge problem on my hands. I could barely breathe. I was gasping for air. I then began to choke, and then it quickly led to me vomiting in the water. And it all happened so quickly I then — I don’t know how it happened — but I went underwater.”

Watch the full video below to learn about how the Mt. Everest swim taught Lewis Pugh a radical new way to approach swimming, and think about climate change.

You can learn more about Lewis’ training in a video by Speedo (posted on the17thman). I also pulled these quotes from the lecture transcript because Lewis Pugh has some great perspective on mental training:

“there is nothing more powerful than the made-up mind” – Lewis Pugh (1:24 on video above)

“I put on my iPod, I listened to some music, I got myself as aggressive as possible — but controlled aggression — and then I hurled myself into that water.” – Lewis Pugh (5:00 on video above)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

David Boudia Breaks American Record With 605.40 Points In 6 Dives

college station texas

Diving is a subjective sport, but with that said, David Boudia’s accomplishment this weekend is one for the record books. At the AT&T National Diving Championships on Saturday, Boudia shattered his own American Record of 551.20 with an astounding 605.40 points in a 6-dive format on the 10-meter platform. With this record, he also became the first American to break the 600 mark, averaging more than 100 points per dive (source).

Boudia showed that consistency pays: during the event, he never scored below a 9, and scored perfect (net score 30) on his last two dives. Judges flashed 19 perfect 10′s, 8 of which counted towards his score. Full judges marks from DiveMeets.com.

The combined DD of David’s list was 21.1, meaning that a perfect score (maximum possible) would have been 633 points. His score of 605.40 puts him at 95.6% of theoretical perfection. “I hit all six dives,” said Boudia. “I couldn

Sunday, August 15, 2010

China Wins First FINA Sanctioned Mixed Relay At Youth Olympic Games

youth olympic games mixed free relay

The first day of swimming competition at the first ever Youth Olympic Games brought yet another first in the 2-boy/2-girl mixed 4x100m free relay. The boys and girls can swim in any order they wish, but China ended up with the first gold in the event with the “one boy, two girls, one boy” strategy (source).

The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are being held in Singapore this year, and will follow a similar every-four-year winter and summer format as the Olympic Games. The YOG holds competitions in 26 sports, but unfortunately for aquatics, water polo and synchronized swimming were cut from the lineup (source).

So, mixed relays have officially been contested in a swimming event sanctioned by both FINA and the IOC, but water polo and synchronized swimming weren’t important enough to include in the Youth Olympic Games?

With the success of the boy/girl mixed free relays, the following events should be considered for future Youth Olympics: coaches relays, watermelon relays, wet t-shirt relays, and raft relays.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Show Divers Messing Around On Rope Swing And 5m Springboard

show diver rope swing

If you thought you and your friends could do some pretty gnarly tricks at the local water hole, check out these show divers (including Purdue diving alumnus Steven LoBue) messing around on a rope swing and 5-meter springboard.

Apparently, Steven LoBue has been doing stunts with Mirage Entertainment since September 2009. Here’s another demo clip of his show diving stunts from Shenzhen, China.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In Brief #44

> Can it get any worse?: industrial bleach as cancer and HIV cure Science-Based Medicine
> Five things we learned at the Swimming Nationals Universal Sports
> Third Time Lucky For Silchenko Red Bull Cliff Diving
> Pinniped Party at the End of the Pier Rob Aquatics
> Thoughts on Televising Nationals Swimming Science
> Cool Fencing Picture of the Day: Ocean Fencing! Tim Morehouse
> How to Take Your Swimming Pool Workout to the Beach Mat Luebbers About.com
> Ryan Lochte vs. Michael Phelps: A Battle of the Titans Column by John Lohn

Monday, August 9, 2010

What Is Goggle Rot? Visualizing Polymer Degradation

Have you heard the term goggle rot? It’s when the elasticity is sucked from your goggle straps and gaskets, and you’re left with crumbly, brittle, easy-to-snap goggles (scientifically speaking). Let’s take a closer look at goggle rot, its cousin polymer degradation, and how to avoid inviting these unwanted visitors to the goggle party.

goggle rot

Goggle rot was easy to find on this 9-year-old pair of Speedo Sprint goggles I found in an old swim bag. Look for goggle rot on the rubbery straps, it will appear as tiny imperfections or notches along the edge of the rubber. Goggle rot becomes even more apparent when you pull on the strap. Stretch it out, and you’ll notice the little tooth marks in the rubber get deeper. Also, look for brittle, stiff rubber that holds its shape – give this section a pull and it should snap cleanly in two.

goggle rot

Goggle rot is a form of polymer degradation, which is a change in the properties (tensile strength, colour, shape) of a polymer of polymer-based product (Wiki). It is caused by a variety of environmental factors such as heat (or rapid changes in heat), light (specifically exposure to ultraviolet light), or chemicals (acids, bases, salts, and gases).

Without knowing the specific composition of goggle straps, it is difficult to tell which factor of polymer degradation is to blame – ozonolysis, however, is a likely candidate. We can assume that goggle straps fall within the polymer classification of elastomers because they have viscoelasticity properties, and elastomers are particularly vulnerable to degradation by ozone naturally present in small amounts in the air.

Compare this image of natural rubber that has undergone ozonolysis to the photos I took of goggle rot:

ozonolysis goggle rot

According to Wikipedia, cracks in the rubber caused by ozonolysis always oriented at right angles to the strain axis. Notice how the “teeth mark” tears in the goggle strap always cut into the rubber perpendicular to the direction of the stretch.

Based on what I have gleaned from Wikipedia while writing this article, I would advise keeping goggles away from prolonged exposure to chlorine (however contradictory that is for swimmers), and keeping them out of cars that heat up during the summer (avoid extreme changes in temperature). But unless you plan to keep your goggles in an air-tight box, it’s impossible to avoid all types of polymer degradation occurring in goggle straps. Silicone is more resistant to Ozone and UV light, which is probably why manufacturers have switched to these materials for newer goggles like Speedo Vanquishers and TYR Tracer goggles.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lochte Footwear Collection Official Press Release, Lochte Swimwear Coming Soon

U.S. Swim Star – And Style Icon – Ryan Lochte Designs Limited Edition Speedo

Thursday, August 5, 2010

MadeMan Article Lists Diving As Top 3 Most Entertaining Olympic Sporting Events

most entertaining olympic diving

Listed among other manly articles, like “5 Best Dunkers In NBA History,” and “10 Best Middleweight MMA Fighters of All Time,” you’ll find a MadeMan article about the Most Entertaining Olympic Sporting Events. On the top of that list: Artistic gymnastics, figure skating, and diving.

Author, Lisa Devoto, provides some support: “While swimming is also an amazing Olympic sporting event to watch, diving really demonstrates the grace of the human body. Where swimming shows pure athleticism, diving shows pure grace” (source).

I’m glad the readers of MadeMan can enjoy artistic gymnastics, figure skating, and diving along with articles on the Bentley Supersports Convertible GTC, Pro Platinum Blondes on Chickipedia, and How To Bar Fight Like An MMA Fighter.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ryan Lochte Shoe Only For Ryan Lochte, Flip Flops To The Rest

ryan lochte green speedo shoe

Dang! Apparently the exclusive Ryan Lochte shoe from Speedo is a little too exclusive, because, as the Ryan Lochte Official Fan Page puts it:

“While the hi-tops are specially designed by me, for me, I’ve also worked with Speedo to design a special limited edition flip flip collection – inspired by my hi-top shoe design – that will be available for purchase!” (source).

ryan lochte speedo shoe collection

If you haven’t seen Ryan’s sequined-out green hi-tops, the photos are now online. I guess whether you like them or not is irrelevant, because they’re not for us. So much for the swim blog posts speculating about the shoe’s features, or a list of criteria for a Ryan Lochte shoe from Speedo.

ryan lochte speedo shoe collection

It was an interesting marketing campaign though, and definitely got my attention. The Swimmers Circle even called the reveal at Nationals the “biggest mystery of the meet” (source).

The down side, however, is that I am left feeling inadequate. In a way, it makes Ryan’s celebrity persona more untouchable, rather than allowing him to connect to his fans on a footwear level. Why can’t we wear the same shoes, Ryan?

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