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Why Doesn’t Sand Stick to Beach Volleyball Players?

Jamie Squire, Getty Images

Last night I watched Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings defeat fellow Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, a win that not only extended their Olympic record to 21-0, it secured their third gold medal in a row. It was a cool moment for them and The United States, but all I could think was why aren’t these women completely covered in sand?

I’ve been to beaches. Beaches from Galveston to Cabo, California, Massachusetts and Florida they’re all beautiful and every single one will leave you absolutely covered in sand. It happens every time, at every beach. And it’s not only all up in my belly button, ears and rubbing, irritatingly between my toes. The tiny rocks and seashells are also in my DROID, my cool silhouette beach towel, my cheap sunglasses (I buy a $7 pair of sunglasses every time I go, so that pesky sand can’t damage my nice ones) — it’s in everything, the sand is everywhere.

So why don’t these Olympic athletes suffer in sand as we do? Is it genetics? Maybe. Do they wear some sort of sand-block? Perhaps, but I couldn’t find any online to buy. Nope, there’s actually a much simpler reason.

Why Misty May-Treanor can dig balls out of the sand without worry, and why Kerri Walsh Jennings is able to smash volleyballs like she’s a 6 foot 3 inch Gallagher smashing watermelons is simple,

The sand used in competition is heavily regulated by the International Volleyball Federation. There are no pebbles or bits of shells. The shape ensures a smoother grain. The size is Goldilocks style: not too small or too big. Why doesn’t it stick? Because it’s designed not to.

Oh, that makes sense.

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