`Tank' tops in planks

Sept. 15, 2010

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In Santa Barbara this weekend, nearly 3,000 walked and they weaved and they waved as they winded around town in a massive sea of pink, as one very powerful human statement of solidarity and support...

Meanwhile, on the beautiful campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and its well-worn track - a like-statement of sorts by a small but mighty group of nearly 100, and, yet for them, it was all about staying still.

And for one very intense moment, amidst blasting music and wild enthusiasm, kids and adults of all ages, kept perfectly prone in the plank position.

When it was done - a new World Record!

Together, both the Avon 2Day Walk for Breast Cancer and the World Record Plank-athon, benefiting the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF), demonstrated a consolidated community commitment for combating Cancer - one of America's deadliest diseases.

The Plank-athon was the brainchild of Dawn Schroeder, Founder of Momentum-4-Life (M4L), a local fitness group and Dayna Jordan, a 10-year M4L Trainer, who promotes plank training with all her clients.

Wikipedia: The plank, also called a prone hold, is an isometric exercise for the core. It is performed by lying on your stomach and lifting your body by keeping your toes and forearms on the ground. The objective of the exercise is to hold this position without movement for as long as possible.

The Plank-athon "light bulb went on" as M4L wanted to further TBCF support in a novel way, following last month's Santa Barbara Triathlon, that contributed funding to help families and kids with cancer.

"In several discussions with Guinness Book, I learned the World Record for holding a plank was one-minute," Schroeder said. "So, we thought it would be a great way to take a minute or two to put ourselves in a little pain to help alleviate those children and families battling Cancer."

So, she encouraged her M4L group to sign up as teams or individuals and get sponsors with all proceeds going directly to the TBCF.

Soon thereafter, Schroeder was speaking with UCSB Swim Coach Gregg Wilson, her long-time mentor, special friend and Godfather to her two children, Grant and Erica.

Wilson informed her that both the UCSB mens' and womens' swim teams incorporate plank training in their conditioning -- unlike when she swam for him in the latter 1980's. "Coach said that they wanted in on the Plank-athon, too!" Schroeder said.

It was set for 3PM on Saturday, September 11th - a significant day not lost on world events and unifying causes across America, near and far.

Local sponsors like Anna's Bakery, Change Leader (provides on-line plank training), KLITE, McDonald's, Nite Moves/Run Santa Barbara, Zizzo's Coffee and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust stepped up with donations of food, refreshments, music and other in-kind measures of support for the festive event.

And the World Record Plank-athon was "the real deal" with official judges: Joseph E. Holland, Santa Barbara County Clerk and Cap & Diane Price, Schroeder's Mom & Dad. The event was video recorded (in addition to later informal action videos currently launched on YouTube) for submission to Guinness Book.

Soooooo......

With KLITE's Lin Aubuchon orchestrating the "On Your Mark" countdown and doing the official timekeeping with two pool sideline timing clocks on the track, all assumed the plank position in unison.

And then the clock began to tick.

One minute....

And slowly, one-by-one, they started to drop.

Two minutes....

Three minutes (those achieving this time or more earned Olympian status and a Gold Medal) ....

After seven-and-a-half-minutes, three M4L women and one lone UCSB male swimmer were still in the hunt...

Schroeder, herself, lasted an amazing 10 minutes, while M4L"Yogini" Fran Berman Lewbel was the last female out at a remarkable 12 minutes!

And so it went for 20 minutes...until there was one.

Finally at 20:38, Ryan "Tank" Garcia, a junior UCSB 200 fly, backstroke and IM swimmer from San Jose, collapsed and was immediately crowned World Plank Champion to a wild, thunderous applause!

His official record time was slightly off his 52-minute informal record set at a recent practice session.

And about his new title....

"I probably could have lasted longer but we had a four-hour swim practice this morning," said Tank, The King of Planks.

"It was unbelievable," said one fan. "The whole event - just absolutely beautiful."

In the end -- over $4,000 raised for the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation... a new batch of decorated Plank Olympians and a new Guinness Book World Record.

And it all happened right here in Santa Barbara - where "the rubber meets the road."

Especially this weekend...