Bigger is better, after all – at least when it comes to the art of cannonballing.

 

Brian Utley, a 350-pound Calgary high school teacher, won the Trident Splash National Cannonball Championship on Wednesday in a lighthearted contest that featured elaborately costumed competitors leaping from a five-metre tower into a swimming pool.

"I feel the bruises coming on already," the 54-year-old Utley said after his winning plunge.

"I’m just glad that the splash went out. It’s all about the splash."

Utley, the heftiest participant by far, said he returned to competitive cannonballing last year after a 21-year break. He said he prepared for the event by going to the gym and doing Pilates and water aerobics.

Utley, who is also a two-time world bellyflop and cannonball champ, said he also did a lot of visualization leading up to the competition.
"Mental preparation is very important in this sport because you have to be prepared when you hit that water," he said. "It hurts every single time."

Utley won the cannonball title by beating out nine other competitors in the event’s final round, including the first-ever female finalist, former national swim team member Kelly Doody.

"I’m as surprised as anyone that I’m here," said Doody, who’s only been cannonballing since June.

"I’m just hoping that I come out of this without being completely black and blue."

But Utley said pain comes with the territory.

"The more the pain, the better the jump," he said.

Judges determined scores based on splash, flair and the ability to tuck.

The competition came down to a three-way contest between Utley, Doug Bergmann of Edmonton and Garfield Andrews of Toronto, but the biggest man ultimately prevailed.

Bergmann wore a pink tutu for his first jump, and entertained the crowd with some ballet moves before cannonballing into the pool.

"I knew I was coming to compete with the costumes and everything, but I had a gut feeling that everyone was going to blow me out of the water," Bergmann said.

"I didn’t really expect to get to the final showdown."

Andrews was also a crowd favourite, getting into the spirit of the competition by preceding each jump with a dramatic sketch.

Andrews made several costume changes during the event, dressing up as Princess Leia of "Star Wars" fame, and also as a zombie featured in Michael Jackson’s classic "Thriller" video.

"I thought Garfield should have took the win," said spectator Harly Murdoch. "He was awesome."

But judge Anthony Farnell said choosing a winner wasn’t easy.

"It was very difficult once we got down to the top three," he said. "It wasn’t maybe the best show that won, but it was the best actual tuck and cannonball."

Utley, who earned a $2,000 cash prize for his victory, said he’ll be back next year.

"I definitely will be back to defend the title," he said. "It’s too much fun."

Via: cnews