Badgers shave more than time

Ryan Dean, athletic trainer for the Wisconsin men's swimming and diving team, is traveling with the Badgers for this week's 2010 Big Ten Championships and will file dispatches from the road for UWBadgers.com. His report from Wednesday follows:

More than time was getting cut in Columbus as the men's Big Ten swimming and diving championships got started Wednesday on the campus of Ohio State.

As the swimmers entered the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion to kick off the four-day championship meet, there were some obvious changes to almost everyone in attendance.

While at first glance it may appear that the majority of the Wisconsin roster was rotated out for a group of younger swimmers, a closer look will show that they are, in fact, the same men.

The difference? Only about three months worth of hair growth.

Before_EDIT.jpgAs the Badgers hit the pool Wednesday night, they were sporting a new, clean-cut look after shaving off their body and facial hair.

The reason behind this radical grooming move is a matter of physics. By not shaving and growing out their hair, the men have gradually increased the amount of water resistance they encounter during their daily training.  

Now, by shaving off the excess hair, the swimmers face less water resistance and also benefit from the psychological boost of feeling faster in the water.

Stipek_During_EDIT.jpgThe Badgers started their shaving hiatus on Jan. 1 during the team's annual training trip to Hawaii. At that time, the men made a team pact to not shave or trim their facial hair as a symbol of team solidarity.
Even team managers Eric Engel and Luke Spring joined in the deal.

"It's kind of a team-building thing," said senior Eric Johnson. "Everyone has to suffer through it, so we suffer together."

So after two months of itchy beards and odd looks on campus, the Badgers finally get to breathe free after spending several hours shaving on Wednesday.

But how does swimming without hair for the first time in months feel?

"It's weird, you actually feel like you're naked in the water," senior Dan Koenig said.

Now that the Badgers are shaved and ready, the only thing left to do is swim. The men will be ready to shave some time off the clock when individual events kickoff Thursday at 11 a.m. (Central).

Top: Jesse Stipek and Cole Scarbrough pre-shave during Tuesday's trip to Columbus.  Above right: Stipek mid-shave on Wednesday.
ON WISCONSIN