Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TED Talk: More on Sue Austin's Deep sea diving wheelchair - Extended footage and she explains what inspired her to make this happen.

When Sue received her wheelchair, she noticed that people on the street could hardly look at her yet she felt emancipated. This social phobia or distress of the chair inspired her to and start doing fun things with it that involved art and otherwise.

Later inspiration struck again and she decided to combine scuba-diving with her wheelchair to take it to a whole new level. So back to the lab she went it and took it to the pool first for R&D work and "modded" it as needed so she could become a scuba diver. When completed she called the chair her "Portal." I think you know why?

 There is more underwater footage of the dive as well and it is very relaxing to watch.

A very inspiring woman.

Here is the description of the video from YouTube:
Published on Jan 8, 2013: When Sue Austin got a power chair 16 years ago, she felt a tremendous sense of freedom -- yet others looked at her as though she had lost something. In her art, she aims to convey the spirit of wonder she feels wheeling through the world. Includes thrilling footage of an underwater wheelchair that lets her explore ocean beds, drifting through schools of fish, floating free in 360 degrees. (Filmed at TEDxWomen.)

International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice president says Rio 2016 preps are 'worst' ever

It was early October in 2009 when the President of the United States, Barrack Obama, got on board Air Force One and flew to Copenhagen so as to lobby the IOC in awarding the 2016 Olympic Games to his home town of Chicago. Never in the history of the games had a US President personally lobbied on behalf of an Olympic candidate city but his efforts were all for naught. The Olympic Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro instead.

Most press outlets decried that the real reason Chicago lost was due to the intense acrimony the IOC had towards the USOC executives. (Yes, it is always abut the money with these guys). Apparently the USOC wanted to build an Olympic cable network and the IOC was not fond of having them do such a thing. But alas here they are, the IOC selected the wrong city, or "bought a lemon" so to speak and now and now they are going through the cathartic process know as buyers remorse.

And now, the "glorious summer" of the 2016 Games has become nothing short of a "winter of discontent" according to Vice President John Coates of the IOC:
"... Coates describing the Rio preparations as "the worst I have experienced" [...] He added that the host city Rio de Janeiro also had "social issues that need to be addressed".

The first Games on the South American continent have been plagued by delays, rising costs and bad communication between different levels of the Brazilian government and organisers, prompting criticism from international sports federations.

Brazil has been under the spotlight for the far more immediate concern of the football World Cup starting in June. Amid problems with stadium construction, labour unrest and security in other parts of the country, thousands of troops occupied Rio's slums in February to wrest them back from the control of drug gangs and criminals. ..."

Notable phrases:
•  Social issues that need to be addressed: (Read as the public there is poor and wants the money spent elsewhere.) 
•  Plagued by delays: (Read as infrastructure and supply chain problems) 
•  Bad communication between different levels of the Brazilian government and organizers: (Read as Rio has over-promised and is under delivering.)  
•  Thousands of troops to wrest back control from drug gangs: (Read as the police were not skilled enough so they were forced to bring in the army.)
The Next Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo in 2020, a country that would better off spending any extra penny they can find in cleaning up what is arguably the biggest nuclear power disaster in history, Fukushima.

Mr John Coates, admit it. You should have picked Chicago, hmmm? Perhaps the IOC better move to a "Plan B" for both Rio and Tokyo?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sue Austin "swims" in and around a coral reef in her underwater wheelchair - the director's cut

Sue Austin, after losing her ability to walk, decided to make her wheelchair into something more! With careful planning and engineering (like something Batman Batgirl would do) she turned her wheelchair into a vehicle that "flies" though the water with transparent wings and propeller jets giving her absolute freedom to participate in scuba diving adventures.

No Geoff, NOOOO! - Olympic swimmer Geoff Huegill and his wife allegedly found carrying cocaine

This is so depressing - I hope this situation is sorted out quickly in that they are either both exonerated or if caught abusing given a chance to go to rehab.

This guy was my favorite story in 2010 and I still find him quite an inspirational swimmer. This was a lousy way to greet my early evening.

From the Guardian:
Olympic swimmer Geoff Huegill and his wife, Sara Hills, will appear in court after they were allegedly found carrying cocaine at the races in Sydney.

NSW police were patrolling Randwick racecourse on Saturday when they were directed to a suite in the grandstand by security personnel. They say officers spoke to a 35-year-old man and his 30-year-old wife, who stand accused of possessing a small quantity of white powder, believed to be cocaine. 

The Princess of Monaco who is also a South African Olympian visited Tustin, California this weekend and participated in teaching some kids how to swim.

The Princess of Monaco and also a South African Olympian in the backstroke and visited southern California this past weekend. I don't know what business she was here for but I am thrilled that she took some time out to teach kids how to swim.

From the Orange County Register:
On the bus ride over, six-year-old Noah Hernandez didn’t know what to expect.

Tyler Copeland, 15, who has been teaching Hernandez to swim at Tustin’s Blue Buoy Swim School for the past two weeks, wasn’t sure either. 
“I thought they were just bringing a girl dressed up as a princess, but instead, it was the real Princess of Monaco,” Copeland said. 
“She wasn’t wearing a dress, but she was nice,” Hernandez said..." 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Search GPS by Rip Curl - The World's First Surf GPS Watch - That's right: for SURFERS ONLY!

I am a watch freak and I am slowly building up quite a collection. Recently I was tickled to see a Mad Men episode on AMC where the hero (or anti-hero) Don Draper looks down at his watch and there it was in all it's glory an Omega Seamaster De Ville Automatic. My most favorite watch in my collection. (Swimmers are attracted to Omega for obvious reasons. Even Coughlin and Phelps wear a Omega and when they looked up at the wall to stop the clock, that was the tose were the first words they saw: Omega Timing.)

Though I prefer watches that are manual wind of or and automatic wind I do adore watches that serve extracurricular purposes such as this watch GPS Watch for Rip Curl. This one tells you time, you max speed, wave count & distance you rode and probably the time and tides. It also links to you iPhone.

I am thinking this Pretty boss!

Friday, April 25, 2014

FDA Issues New Advice on Sunscreen

Above is a song called "Everybody is Free to Wear Sunscreen" and the video above offers much better advice than the FDA ever could. Now, with that out of the way we swimmers, especially at swim meets, swim workouts, and long open water water swims, we  have to keep current on sunscreen rules and the FDA says the following in this snippet From GMA:

From GMA Network
The FDA also suggested sunscreen creams are best for the face and dry skin while gels are good for hairy areas of the skin.

Water-resistant sunscreen products are best when going swimming or when sweating profusely, it added.

"Regardless of which sunscreen preparation you choose, be sure to apply it generously to achieve full UV ray protection," it said.

The FDA has a sunscreen page page with some videos, how to read sunscreen labeling, and is nothing short of a goldmine for sunscreen links, studies and related information.

If you a lazy student whois looking to do a thorough science report on this subject this is the page you want to go to for an easy "A."

Parents and adults should go here too if they don't want to look 60-years-old when they are 35.
In a nutshell from The FDA:

• Use Broad Spectrum sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed 
• Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.  
• Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense. 
• Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun; for example, long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Washington Post: Christopher Thomas Huott, founder & owner of the Maryland Suburban Swim Club arrested!

Christopher Thomas Huott was arrested after being accused of molesting a swimmer back in the 1980s.

From the The Washington Post:
".... A woman approached police last month alleging that Huott had “engaged her in sex acts on numerous occasions while she was a minor in his care,” according to a statement by Montgomery County police.

The abuse started in the mid 1980s, when the victim was 7, and continued for several years, according to police allegations filed in court records.

Detectives are worried that there may be more victims “due to Huott’s position . . . and his access to children,” Montgomery police said. ..."


These accusations are about 30-years-old yet an arrest was made. What confuses me is that I filled a complaint against a well noted Maryland Club; (NBAC), last year and the cops did not want to touch it and I supplied way more evidence than this woman did: Emails, a witness and more.

I am summarily unimpressed with Baltimore child protective services and their police department. Perhaps if you are famous there you get a free pass.

Michael Phelps leaves Speedo - I suspect his next sponsor will be...

Swimming World Magazine:
"...More to come as we contact the various parties. As of right now, Phelps is currently warming up in the pool in an Arena short-legged brief...." 
"...Speedo has released the following statement regarding the end of the relationship: The celebrated relationship between Speedo, the world's leading swimwear brand, and Michael Phelps, which has spanned more than 12 years, formally concluded at the end of 2013. ..."

So, is he going to Arena? - Maybe, but if he does the branding on the suit will surprise you.

On November 14th of last year, Swimming World, reported that Michael Phelps had rejoined the US drug-testing program so as to keep his "options open." The swimming public at large wasn't taking his "options" statement seriously, we all knew this was a comeback.

Those who over-thought his decision were perplexed as to why he would do such a thing? To be fair their reasoning was sound: In the first two-years after the Beijing Games Phelps barely showed up to workouts. His relationship with his coach sucked and it was broadly publicized that he would rather be playing golf and playing poker than swimming mile-after-mile, week-after-week. But when the Olympics came around once again he stunned the doubters like me and medaled.

Meanwhile back at the "SCAQ Lab" on that cold November day I was depressed. This comeback meant that tech-suits would still remain in exile and Michael Phelps would still remain the center of infinity for all things swimming. Disturbed beyond measure I began scanning Google News for statements by Phelps or Bowman and all I could find were articles about the solidifying relationship of Michael Phelps and Under Armor.

 Phelps & Under Armor stories were seen appearing in Bloomberg, Associated Press and elsewhere. Even a video download of Phelps training in Under Armor gear was available at Dropbox as a free download.

Will he be swimming for Under Armor? This is what I first thought. After discussion with those on the front lines of this sport I became uncertain.

Phelps has made it known in several interviews that Michael Jordan is his inspiration. The two don't have much in common other than sharing the same first name, a love of for the game of golf and that subtle coincidence that both are considered the greatest athletes ever in their disciplines. Another item which they don't have in common is that Michael Jordan has a heck of lot more money than Phelps does and receives what I like to call an $80-million-year "annuity" from Nike by way of a royalty payment for his Air Jordan shoe line.

So, now that Michael Phelps left Speedo, guess what I suspect is going to happen?

We are going to see a Michael Phelps swimsuit line distributed by a company other than Speedo. Will it be Under Armor, Arena, or will Speedo come to their senses and realize that Michael Phelps has a more positive brand name and recognition than they do?

But that is not all. It gets even better, If Michael Phelps gets his own swimsuit line, why not double down and give the sport's future "Queen" a swimsuit line as well? That's right! Missy Franklin!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Charlotte Observer: Charlotte swim coach banned for life after sexual misconduct charge

Jamie Thomas finally banned for life. It took a very long time to process this ban and people should ask USA Swimming why?  (In fact I will ask and post the reply.)  This all began back in November 2013. 

In fact South North Carolina has had 9-coaches charged with sexual misconduct since 2012. Absolutely despicable. Sounds like a serious cultural problem that needs addressing. 

From the Charlotte Observer:

 On Monday, the sport’s governing body announced Thomas’ permanent suspension for violation of the USA Swimming code of conduct. The suspension means he is prohibited from coaching or owning one of its club teams. 
 “The safety of our athletes is our top priority,” USA Swimming spokesperson Karen Linhart said. “It’s very important to have the right people in our sport, acting in the ways of our code of conduct and doing the right thing.” 
 USA Swimming initially suspended Thomas following his Sept. 18 arrest in Opelika, Ala., on a pending sexual misconduct charge. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

RIO Games in trouble: A "Plan B" is being floated to have some of the events moved to different cities.

The 2016 Olympics is a socio/political mess thus far. Even governing chiefs are raising their voices and one in particular, International Tennis Federation chief Francisco Ricci Bitti. "...called the situation "very serious" and said "we are scared."

As I write this 2,000+ Olympic venue construction workers are on strike because of the precarious working conditions. The strike there has been aggressive and warning shots have been fired into the air suggesting workers and security guards are quite at odds with each other.

From the Courier Mail:
“....Leaders of 18 different federations spoke out about Rio’s troubled preparations in a meeting with Bach and the IOC board. All but one — volleyball — raised serious concerns. 
The general feeling is that we are in the most critical situation in the preparation for the games that has happened in the last 20 years at least,” said Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.

Ricci Bitti said the sports raising the issue of a “Plan B” were referring to venue plans, not moving the games.

“We are not at this stage,” he said, adding that basketball, for example, could consider playing some games in Sao Paulo if the Deodoro venue won’t be ready.


Emerging economies often have environmental problems however one problem in particular, according to the The Guardian, could actually "kill" the sailing venue before it is even built.

From the Guardian:
"... Construction on the second largest cluster of venues in northern Rio, in an area called Deodoro, has yet to begin. Work on the Olympic golf course has also been delayed.

Severe water pollution in Guanabara Bay, the venue for Olympic sailing, is a growing concern with a test event scheduled in August. IOC officials have said they will not risk athletes' health if the water is unsafe. ..."

But what about the pool? That venue was built in 2007 for the Pan American Games. The upside is that the pool is built. The down side is that it was built 7-years ago. Arguably, since FINA will not allow techsuits and insists on "tech pools" instead, don't expect a myriad of world records to be set in 2016.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Stephanie Rice retires from swimming - A swimming career "obit" from Yahoo sports

Unfortunately she will be remembered for the dumbest thing a celebrity can do: Tweet a gay slur on Twitter and believe you can take it down in time before it becomes globalized. That is what she did and the consequences came quick. It was 2010 and that slur cost here a luxury car contract and even the car they gave her had to be returned.

Rice was the Missy Franklin of Australia winning three gold medals in the Beijing Olympics Games. Her shoulder ultimately blew out and I suspect her interest in the sport as well. See the vide above.

From Yahoo News:
The beginning of the end of her swim career came in December 2011, when she underwent surgery to repair a torn tendon in her right shoulder. With plenty of physiotherapy and cautious training, she won both IMs at the Australian trials four months before the London Games, but the shoulder failed to hold up to more rigorous training ahead of the Olympics.

"Steph has been wrestling with this since London," Bohl said Wednesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

"She couldn't get the best out of herself there, but with what she endured, she didn't want to retire with question marks. She wanted a year or two to think about it."


Sad day when a young lady has to "fold her cards" and give up the holy game of swimming. May her second act be adventurous, fruitful and endearing.

Ian Thorpe is in trouble: "Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe in intensive care and may lose the use of his left arm after 'contracting a bug during surgery' in Switzerland"

It has been a lousy year for Ian Thorpe, a man who has suffered depression issues for the better part of a decade and now this troubling news:

From the Daily Mail:

The 31-year-old gold medallist is receiving treatment for an infection after receiving surgery at a hospital near his Swiss home of Ronco sopra Ascona. Thorpe was flown to Sydney, where he is in intensive care, and his close associates fear that he could lose the use of his left arm, Network Seven reported.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

In a world where Nike is "Speedo" and Alberto Salazar is "Mark Schubert" - Track & field athletes want to rise against the empire and unionize!

Track & Field athletes inspired by the concept that both college football players and basketball players can unionize is taking the ruling by the National Labor Relations Board quite seriously. They are now talking about unionizing too after an all too powerful coach arguably gamed the rules at a track & field event.

From the Wall Street Journal: 
"... The discord follows two disqualifications at indoor nationals in February. Both cases involved runners coached by Nike coach Alberto Salazar, which prompted opposing coaches, athletes and competing sponsors to question Nike's influence with the USATF and how the body applies its rules. USATF rejected claims that anyone received special treatment.  
At the meet, as Brooks-sponsored Gabriele Grunewald sprinted to victory in the final leg of the 15-lap, 3,000-meter race, she clipped the heel of Nike runner Jordan Hasay, who finished fourth. Mr. Salazar, a three-time New York City Marathon champion, protested the result on the grounds that the contact impeded Ms. Hasay. Ms. Grunewald eventually was disqualified, though some people said the process deviated from USATF rules. 
Ms. Hasay later withdrew the protest amid backlash, and Ms. Grunewald was reinstated as the winner. 
In the men's 3,000 meters, Nike runner Andrew Bumbalough was disqualified for interfering with Galen Rupp, who was coached by Mr. Salazar and also is sponsored by Nike. Mr. Rupp came in second, while Mr. Bumbalough, who wasn't coached by Mr. Salazar, finished eighth. ..." 

Some supporting "players" in this "movie" that I did not mention in the title of this post are Brooks and Saucony (shoe company rivals to Nike).  They are the TYR and the Arena swimsuits of the sport.

In 2008 USA Swimming was essentially a marketing arm for Speedo. No other suit company could advertise in the USA Swimming magazine but Speedo. This rue was so ironclad that when a TYR logo appeared on a TYR sponsored swimmer in an article, it was ordered to be airbrush off the athlete's suit. Speedo, back then, owned all the marketing and advertising opportunities much like Nike currently has with US Track & Field today

Now I don't want to be racially offensive but the following analogy is going to apply. It is not hyperbole but rather a fact and the definition fits: There is a profound amount of track & field athletes that are of African descent. These athletes like many of their ancestors are now second string "share croppers" to their governing body.

A share cropper, (usually a former slave) would take out a loan from a landowner to buy seeds and tools. This sharecropper would work the land and a percentage of the crops when harvested would go to the landowner as payment. The crop amount delivered to the landowner was about half or maybe a little less than what was grown. On face value this seems fair, but the landowner set the prices that he would pay for the harvest which would be significantly less than market value. Since the sharecropper had no access to the markets at large. The end result was that the Negroes did all the work and the landowners made all the money.

Now enters the NRLB ruling that would allow Northwestern athletes to unionize. Well, it's now time for USA Swimming athletes to considering unionizing too and here is why: You the Olympic athlete are nothing but a "sharecropper." You are slaves to US Swimming. You have no access to royalty payments from the USOC, the IOC, or the advertisers. (About $30-million per year.) This includes royalties from all the Sports networks across the globe and even the royalty rights of your likeness well into in perpetuity.

I have always felt that USA Swimming athletes should unionize and now is the time.  Carpe diem, or, seize the day, athletes.

Tony Austin

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Possible NCAA Unionization could destroy both mens and womens swimming at top schools!

Yes, it would be "game over" for all not profitable sports because football & basketball players would make an extraordinary amount of money & benefits and have no need for scholarships. Thus, Title IX would become a meaningless relic from an antique age.

Prologue: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) a couple weeks ago ruled that the NCAA Northwestern football players can unionize. This is the moral equal of starting a fire on a dry patch of weeds in Yellowstone Park. If the colleges and universities cannot extinguish this potential unionization "fire"utterly and completely, then "Yellowstone Park" (or University profits) will go up in "flames."

Football and basketball players, if unionized, would be considered employees of the school. These players could collectively negotiate salaries, medical care, and probably pensions too. This will be expensive. Scholarships would be over and that leads to Title IX issues.

On face value it seems like the female gender would have a bit of an advantage here but in fact they do not for the Title IX law would become obsolete. The Title IX law states that scholarships must be doled out equally amongst men and women. However, would football players need scholarships if they were legally marked as employees of the school? These kids would probably be making hundreds-of-thousands-of dollars per year so why offer scholarships? Why would a school give a scholarship to a football player if their union is making the schools pay salaries, health insurance and pensions?

From Brietbart 
 "...Title IX requires whatever additional medical and educational benefits Northwestern football players—and those at other universities forming unions negotiate—be extended to athletes in other sports with equal aggregate amounts spent on men and women. 

What would happen to Title IX if suddenly there was a surplus of female scholarships versus male scholarships? (Presuming that all male and basketball scholarships were virtually erased off the books?) What incentive would a college or university have to increase the number of male scholarships to match the amount of females receiving them? Thus, they kill female scholarships.

Yes, fewer sports for women especially swimming is the way this unionization thing is looking.