Waterfront: July 2007 - Ready, Set, Research!; Volcano, Erupted

Ready, Set, Research!

Aquatic research center launches at WSU. 

How fitting that the day the hot tubs were delivered and installed in the recently established aquatic research center at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., was the kind of day that beckoned for a soak in a soothing hot tub.

"On a bitter-cold January morning," says Dr. Bruce Becker, the principal investigator and director of the lab, "a truck and trailer pulled up with three hot tubs, wrapped in plastic and covered in ice from the previous day's winter storm.

"With care and manpower, the tubs were unloaded one by one, carefully coaxed into the freight elevator and then trundled down the hall to the lab doorway. By twisting them perfectly, they fit through the door frame, with at most 1/8 -inch [clearance] on all sides. Another layer of wrapping and the major expense of door frame removal would have been necessary," says Becker.

The hot tubs will be used to measure human response to water immersion at various temperatures, from cool to hot, says Dr. Becker. "We will be testing heart rate responses, heart rhythms, circulatory system alterations, brain activity and a number of other variables over the next 15 months or more. There is much to learn through this: What are the optimum temperature ranges for the heart to 'de-stress'? What happens to brain activity during immersion, and how long does it take for blood vessels to relax in warm water? Many other similar questions are going to be investigated in this project."

The researchers hope the institute can become the central research laboratory in the nation for studying the practical application of aquatics in health maintenance and recovery. "We hope to create a wetter, healthier world through research," says Dr. Becker.

Efforts to establish the research center were given a big boost after Athletic Business Publications (AQUA's parent company) made an initial $20,000 pledge. Twelve other industry suppliers then invested in the WSU center, and NSPF matched the total donation. 

Volcano, Erupted 

Mayhem in Minnesota 

High-end commercial and residential pool projects sometimes include a little fire to offset the element of water. It looks really cool and seems pretty safe, what with all the water surrounding it. Imagine the surprise, then, when, according to the Associated Press, an "imitation volcano" in a hotel pool in Duluth (are there real volcanoes there.) began belching smoke and spewing flames, scattering scared swimmers.

The fire forced half-dressed and barefoot guests to seek refuge in the hotel's parking lot. Soon, all were given warm blankets and treated to dinner at a nearby Perkins restaurant. (Mmmm. Free countryfried steaks! You gonna finish that sausage 'n' biscuit platter?)

Waterpark workers blamed the fire on a malfunctioning speaker inside the previously dormant volcano.

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