Guinea Pig or Swimmer?

Posted on October 19, 2009

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One of the advantages of swimming at the University of Florida was having access to the best scientific advancements in the sport.  Not only did we have the best training resources and techniques, but we also had some of the greatest minds in the world turning their focus on enhancing our performance. No, I am not talking about growth hormones or steroids, but rather something much more basic…Gatorade!

While I was at UF, Dr. Robert Cade, the legendary inventor of Gatorade, continued to search out recovery drinks, hoping to give athletes a greater performance through better recovery.  So, riding the proven success of Gatorade, he had yet another idea: a new drink named Go.”

The only problem? Dr. Cade needed test subjects to fine tune his results…and which athletes maintained the highest level of performance throughout their workouts? You guessed it, swimmers!

Dr. Cade needed to record blood and temperature levels during intense swimming workouts. The blood was no big deal…every Wednesday during workout, he would track our blood lactate levels and use the data to figure out how to help us recover faster than anybody else.

Now, on to the body temperature; little did we know just how he was going to do that temperature thing!  Hmm, let’s see…through the mouth?  NO!  Uh, through palpation?  NO!  You guessed it–in the backside, the derriere, the bum…”WHAT!?” I remember Dara Torres saying. “NOT ME!”

Dr. Cade had a long snake-like thermometer about 4-5 feet in length, and he told us individually (because we did it one person at a time), to stick it up and get at least get a good amount in there….What in the heck did that mean?!

Yes, we actually swam with thermometers stuck in our butts for 2 to 3 hours! (So, no complaining about paddles or buoys, okay?)  During an intense set, Dr. Cade would then use the long cord (that was tucked into our suits) to plug into a machine which gave him the temperature from inside our bodies.

Get this! We were swimming in 77-78 degree UF water in the O-Dome, and our internal temperature got up to 104-105!  Crazy!

I can remember when each day you thought it would be your turn to be the guinea pig, and man—oh boy! The anticipation was weird. So, did it work? Did all the testing and research pay off?  Well, yes, there is a drink that he developed and on the market today in the form of a drink and bars.  So, next time you drink a GO recovery drink or eat a GO energy bar, you can thank my backside for its contributions!

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Posted in: Memory Lane