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WREC’s new slacklining event tests balance over water

Third-year+student+Malin+Eiremo+falls+into+Wildcat+Recreation+Center%27s+pool+as+she+attempts+to+walk+across+the+slackline.+Photo+credit%3A+Alex+Grant
Third-year student Malin Eiremo falls into Wildcat Recreation Center's pool as she attempts to walk across the slackline. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Third-year student Malin Eiremo falls into Wildcat Recreation Center's pool as she attempts to walk across the slackline. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Third-year student Malin Eiremo falls into Wildcat Recreation Center's pool as she attempts to walk across the slackline. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Alex Grant

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A new weekly slacklining program kicked off at the Wildcat Recreation Center last Friday.

Slack or Swim combines the skills of balancing on a slackline, a tightrope-like line, with swimming. Participants walk across a flat two-inch wide cable, that’s placed four feet above the WREC’s pool. The line is 25 yards long and extends the entire length of the pool. WREC staff members plan to set the slackline up every Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. for everyone with access to the gym.

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Malin Eiremo focuses on a still object at the other end of the slackline while using her arms to even out her weight distribution. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Dustin Stene, the WREC’s aquatic coordinator, said slacklines are usually hung between two trees above ground, so this activity will give many slackliners a new, safer experience.

“All experiences are welcome,” Stene said. “Knowing that you’re landing on water, not hard ground kind of makes it more inviting for new people and beginners.”

This idea originated in 2016 when it was proposed and accepted by the engineering program as a capstone project for “Mechanical Engineering Design” (MECH 440A).

According to Stene, four students, Abdulrahman Alhamad, Hussain Alibrahim, Brent Rowse and Carson Schmeck were the engineering students who designed and created the slackline’s support system that holds the line in place. The project was completed last December and was tested out before publicizing this weekly event.

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Daniel Nourot steps forward on one of his best slacklining attempts on the day. Malin Eiremo watches and cheers him on. Photo credit: Alex Grant

The first Slack or Swim event was sparsely attended with only three people testing out the cable, but anyone with WREC access is welcome to participate.

Fifth-year nursing major Daniel Nourot was the first to attempt walking across the line and fell into the pool multiple times, but still encouraged beginners to try it out.

“It’s always fun trying something different,” Nourot said. “It’s a little bit harder picking up at first if you’ve never (slacklined before) or if you’re like me who’s a bit of clutz. But you get a laugh about it, have a bit of fun and find a little humor in yourself clutzing your way across the slackline.”

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Daniel Nourot falls off the slackline landing safely into the WREC's pool. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Third-year nursing major, Malin Eiremo, also tried out the line and appreciated the safety aspects of slacklining over a pool.

“I have a slackline and it’s easy to put between two trees, but there are not many places you can put it over water,” Eiremo said. “And if you fall you don’t really get hurt.”

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Malin Eiremo focuses on a still object at the other end of the slackline while using her arms to even out her weight distribution. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Nourot also mentioned that the pool setting allows more advanced slackliners to try tricks they might not normally attempt.

“You can do flips more readily,” Nourot said. “You’re probably going to be more tempted to try a flip now that you have water to land into, rather than hard ground.”

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Daniel Nourot tries to pull himself up onto the line from the pool. This technique adds another challenge to the slackline. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Nourot also added that slacklining provides people with a fun way to workout core muscles.

“It’s a really tough core workout, more so than if you were to go do some sit-ups and crunches,” Nourot said. “You (use) the really small muscles in your core that are meant for balancing and not just your chest up to your knees for a situp.”

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Malin Eiremo focuses on a still point on the other end of the slackline to help her concentrate on her balance. Photo credit: Alex Grant

The line also allows people to work on their balancing skills.

“Balance and focus (are crucial) because if you lose your focus you automatically go off,” Eiremo said. “I usually look at the end of the line, I just find one point that’s not moving and try to focus on that. Even if you can only get one step, it’s still fun.”

Alex Grant can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AlexThomasGrant

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WREC’s new slacklining event tests balance over water