Dancing with the Stars: Spotlight on Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo
Glenn Diaz
Glenn Diaz
Staff Writer, BuddyTV

(Note: On this series, we will assess the chances of the couple in question to win Dancing with the Stars based on any number of things, including their profession, dancing experience (if any), or just plain gut feel, which needless to say is very unscientific. Of course, I can be very, very wrong so feel free to tell us what you think below.)

First stop, we have Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo.

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Natalie Coughlin is an Olympic champion swimmer who has several records to her name, while Alec Mazo won the first ever season of Dancing with the Stars and is back for his fifth season. If you've caught at least one season of the show, you know how athletes have historically fared on this competition. We need not look far. Just recently, we had Olympians Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson blowing away the competition.

Some point to the athletes' familiarity with the physicality that comes with dancing, with the discipline that is necessary, and the dexterity that these athletes have acquired through years and years of training. Although we also know that being an athlete isn't nearly enough. Cases in point: Evander Holyfield and Monica Seles.

As for Coughlin, she is obviously keen on not hiking expectations. "I don't do much on land. I'm out of my element," she said, adding that there might be a couple of techniques that she's totally alien with.

That being said, what are the perceived advantages that a (great) swimmer will have on a show like Dancing with the Stars. For one, a relatively high fitness level is needed to engage in competitive swimming. Dexterity is also very important; swimming entails bending your body in certain precise, specific ways to achieve optimum speed in the water, and precise body parts need to do some specific things, so body coordination is also key.

According to Coughlin, the great leg power that swimming gave her will definitely come in handy on the dance floor. However, she said, her upper body is perennially tense, something she would need to unlearn, because hand movements in dancing are rarely tense. They're mostly elegant and graceful.

Now moving away from the theoretical side of things, Coughlin had been quoted as saying that while she doesn't have any "real dancing experience," she loves dancing, which is always a good start. She added that she might have done one or two hip-hop/ballet classes for cardio and had plans of taking dancing classes before DWTS came with the offer. After a couple of days in rehearsal, she then reportedly said, "It's frustrating but fun." Again, good start.

And for an interesting piece of trivia, Coughlin's agent Janey Miller used to handle speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno - season 4 winner of Dancing with the Stars.

As for Alec Mazo, what's there to say? The guy is brilliant, and has shown that he can win DWTS.

- Glenn Diaz, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of ABC)