Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tom Daley Goes Cartoony For “My School Lunch” Website

tom daley activity sheet

The British Swimming Foundation supports a website called “My School Lunch,” that, for whatever reason, hosts a Tom Daley blog shrine with information for schools and Tom Daley stalkers fans alike. Ok so it’s not for stalkers, it’s a tool for parents and teachers to get kids interested in diving, swimming, and overall healthy lifestyles.

On the site, you can watch videos of Tom doing exercises, check out what Tom eats on a daily basis, and print off fun activity sheets with a cartoon-ized Tom Daley. The site includes information on swimming, diving, and gymnastics!

Michael Phelps may have a children’s book, but Tom Daley seems to be fully immersed in this youth-targeted site. Because Tom is the ambassador for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, being marketable to parents is definitely a plus.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Are Strokemaker Paddles Distraction Proof? A Case Study

strokemaker paddles

Stokemaker paddles only come with an 8×5 single-sided instruction sheet, 33 inches of rubber tube, and the paddles themselves. I wanted to put the paddles to the test – not in the water – but in my living room. This post was originally going to be titled “Are Strokemaker Paddles Idiot Proof?” but then I changed the wording for the sake of my ego. Convinced that I was, in fact, NOT an idiot, I put the paddles through a distraction test. Here’s what I found…

strokemaker paddles

Family Guy was on TV, so I turned the volume way up. I dumped the contents of my Strokemaker assembly kit out on the table, and went looking for some scissors (I told you I wasn’t an idiot). I found some very pre-school looking safety scissors and decided to keep looking. I went into the kitchen and found cooking sheers nestled in the knife rack. Perfect! While I was in the kitchen I decided to have a snack: Diet Coke and almonds.

diet coke and almonds

Back to the paddles… I faintly remember the words “into thirds,” “cut” and “DIAGONAL” (in all caps) on the instruction sheet. I cut the 33 inches of tube into 3 equal sections. That’s as far as I got before my cat (Sasha Cohen) did something cute and I had to take a picture of her!

sasha cohen strokemaker paddles

Back to the paddles! I cut one of the wrist tubes in half to make two finger tubes. I’m pretty sure whoever came up with this standard equation for wrist to finger tube ratio should have a movie made about them. Maybe call it “A Beautiful Mind 2,” and get that Russell Crowe guy again, he’s Australian so I bet he can swim.

strokemaker paddles

Now you just feed the tubes through the holes and you’re done. No need to cut anything else! So how’d I do?

strokemaker paddles

This proves that Strokemaker Paddles really are distraction proof. Family Guy is still on, I finished my Diet Coke, and I have a strange urge to start a Russell Crowe DVD marathon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Value of Your Swim Shop

kast-a-way swimwear interior retail swim shop

You’re loading the car for an entire weekend trip to Louisville, Kentucky for the Lakeside Seahawks Invitational. You’ve got your hotel reservations, you programmed the directions into the Garmin, and your Sienna or Tahoe just got an oil change last week. Little Susie decides that now is a good time to mention that her goggles broke during yesterday’s practice, her cap melted in the dryer, and all her friends just got the ‘Sea Creature’ Silly Bandz that are way cooler than the dorky ‘Dinosaur’ pack she already has.

Luckily, you have options. You can either drive like mad to the local swim shop or you can just pick up some goggles and a cap from the meet vendor first thing in the morning. Do you know how that meet vendor got there? Do you know where they came from?

We’re from your local swim shop, we brought the store with us, and we’re probably staying in your hotel!

We’re at the meet (in the trenches just like you), adjusting Little Susie’s goggles minutes before her race. We’re your local swim shop, we’re parents and coaches and [former] athletes, and we’re here to help. Knowledge of the product is something you can always count on from a local swim shop.

Can’t get the goggle nose-piece to cooperate? Hand it over, we’ve done this a thousand times. Fallen behind in the polyester vs. Lycra debate? We’re your own personal Ask.com. We do this for a living, and stay versed on the changing product line so you don’t have to. You don’t need to dig through anonymous product reviews online, just ask us, our kids swim too!

kast-a-way swimwear interior retail swim shop

Let’s look back at the opening scenario: Little Susie’s last-minute crisis. Buying locally is always the quickest solution. This is where the rubber hits the road, and you walk away with what you need that same day. UPS and FedEx can do some amazing things, but I’ve never seen them put a cap on someone’s head within minutes of buying it.

Aside from knowledge and immediacy, local shops allow you to be a hand-on shopper. “I don’t like the feel of this material”, “These goggles are a little darker than I thought.” Get in there and get handsy!

We know all of our local teams, and we’ve got your best interest at heart. We can either help keep your team on budget, or glitz up your swimmers with custom spiritwear and banners. We always give team discounts, coach discounts, and quantity discounts. We’ll even bring the gear to you and host your equipment night.

So let’s hear it for the local swim shop – the store whose brick and mortar will outlast the faceless competition. Let’s hear it for Kast-A-Way Swimwear, Kiefer, D&J Sports, All American Aquatics, NorCal and CAS Swim Shop – thank you for supporting the great sport of swimming in your local community!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sunday’s Trouble Down Unda’

nick d'arcy and stephanie rice trouble down unda

Australian swimmers Nick D’Arcy and Stephanie Rice found themselves in two completely different kinds of trouble this past Sunday.

Following a last-minute Australian rugby win over South Africa, Stephanie tweeted: “Suck on that faggots. Probs the best game I’ve ever seen!! Well done boys.” This was probs not the best choice of words, a lesson @ItsStephRice realized after a media storm made her life hell for a few days.

The tweet was taken down, and Stephanie thoroughly apologized for the comment. After being called a homophobic, ignorant, idiot, Stephanie got some backup from openly gay Australian diver, Matthew Mitcham who tweeted in her defense: “She’s not a homophobe. She luvs gays but used very ill-chosen language.”

You can also check out her public apology video here.

nick d'arcy and stephanie rice trouble down unda

Nick D’Arcy also got himself into a bit of trouble on Sunday, when he tested positive for a banned substance (formoterol) only a month before the Commonwealth Games (source). Apparently, the drug is from Nick’s asthma medication that he has been using for the past five years. The drug acts as an anabolic agent, increasing oxygen uptake, and is permitted as long as swimmers have filed the appropriate Therapeutic Use Exemption forms.

The confusion seems to be in the paperwork, but Swimming Australia is confident that Nick will have no problem being cleared. Nick stated that he is not worried (source).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Social Sports Inc. Introduces ‘Podium Pursuit’ Fantasy Swimming

podium pursuit fantasy swimming

Fantasy Swimming has been a huge topic among swim bloggers, coaches, and fans. Now, it seems, Social Sports Inc. has beaten everybody to the punch by introducing their Podium Pursuit platform.

According to the website:

“Podium Pursuit is made up of a number of fantasy sports games. Each sport has its own scoring system and virtual storefront, but shares the basic functionality with each of the other sports. Each sport consists of unique competitions, which can include a number of distinct events. For each competition you can draft your own teams by picking the athletes in each event within that competition that you believe will win Gold, Silver and Bronze. You can then buy products in the store that can be assigned to the athletes on your team, which in turn enhances each athlete’s value” (source).

So you can select your picks in each event for each meet, use your Pursuit Bucks to make your athletes worth bonus points if they win, and use your winnings to get even better gear.

Just like so many online games these days, if you don’t feel like earning Pursuit Bucks, you can just use your real-life money to purchase fake money in the game (it still blows my mind, but I can’t say I haven’t done it before).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pool Aeration With Watercannons

pool aeration with watercannons

I was surfing around Twitter the other day, when I saw the name @Watercannons with a curious looking thumbnail picture. Watercannons? Well, there really is no other way to describe these cannons shooting jets of water high above swimming pools. But I had never seen such a thing before! What are they, and what do they do?

pool aeration with watercannons

I contacted Chris Ostling, the owner of Living Waters Aeration, to get some more information on what these things are and why people use them.

Watercannons are portable swimming pool aerators, and basically the jets of water simulate what naturally occurs in ocean waves, waterfalls, and raindrops. The surface area of the water is increased when it is sprayed into two streams of droplets. The increased surface area allows for more UV light penetration, oxygenation, and evaporation through contact with the air.

pool aeration with watercannons

Evaporation will decrease the pool temperature (the same way sweating cools you off), and the increased UV light penetration and oxygenation have additional benefits that Chris explained in an email to me:

“The aeration process will reduce disease causing bacteria. Many bacteria are strict anaerobes and require a nutrient broth for survival and practically all pathogens are killed by ultraviolet light, which the sun emits. Also aerobic bacteria feed on pathogenic bacteria. Oxygenating the water body, creates an environment where aerobic bacteria thrive raising the pH and exposing pathogenic bacteria to sunlight then these pathogens are weakened or killed.”

Watercannons have been used by the U.S. Olympic Committee at training pools in Greece and Beijing, and even on military bases (especially in places where stagnant water gets uncomfortably warm).

Below is the rest of my email interview with the owner of Living Waters Aeration, Chris Ostling:

What are some other ways people have tried to aerate their pools, and why is the Watercannon a better method?

Some pools have built in aeration systems. Sometimes it will be something as simple as a PVC pipe drilled full of holes along the edge or gutter. Other times, it is some type of homemade pumping device that barely spits out any water. There are also chillers and reverse heat pumps on the market, but they are not portable and are expensive. Any type of fountain or waterfall will help reduce temperatures. Our units are both portable. They can be set up at night and stored out of sight before the pool opens the next day.

I read on your website “It reduces undesirable 92-96 degree temperatures to a more refreshing and controlled 80-82. Prepare for those important swim meets. . .” How long does it take to drop the temperature like this before a swim meet?

Most facilities use the Watercannon at night, running it 6-8 hours every night. It is not really something you just use when you need it the day before a swim meet. On average it will cool a commercial pool 10-12 degrees.

We do have some pools that use it in the daytime though. The kids will even boo when the lifeguard turns it off.

Is it safe for kids to play around, or are the water jets too powerful?

We only sell to commercial supervised pools. Lifeguards or pool managers operate the Watercannon.

It has a triple suction, using VGB approved inlets. The force of the water coming out is 110-160 gallons per minute. We need that force to get the water as high as we can above the pool.

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.

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