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by Mindy Bach

July 19, 2000

Brains and brawn

Forget twelve months of Chippendales and Fabio. There's a new breed of man found in the pages of "Studmuffins of Science," one of the fastest selling male calendars on the bookshelves this year.

Open the calendar to the month of January and meet Masters swimmer Brian Scottoline. Having a Y-chromosome and a Ph.D. qualified the sprinter to join this showcase of men who possess as much brain as they do brawn. But Scottoline's intellect wasn't the primary reason he was selected.

"Brian's stomach and thighs got him into it," said the calendar's creator, Karen Hopkin. "I saw his picture and said, `We have a calendar!' We could just do twelve months of Brian."

While Hopkin marveled over her discovery, Scottoline researched HIV retroviruses at a Stanford University laboratory, no idea he would soon become "Dr. January" and a national calendar cover model.

"I had a friend who read about it somewhere, and she sent in some photographs of me," Scottoline said. "I got word from the calendar that they were interested, and I thought, `Well, should I do it or not?' and then I thought `OK. What the heck.' I thought it would never see the light of day. I thought (Hopkin) would print 500 of them and be left with 300."

Hopefully Scottoline's lab results turn out better than his predictions. The calendar's popularity is a phenomenon that is worthy of scientific study itself.

We ordered hundreds and sold hundreds," said Elizabeth Sims, western regional manager of Borders Books and Music. The national bookstore chain stocked a third of its stores with the calendar, which Scottoline describes as "a bunch of Ph.D.s doing whatever it is they do for fun." “It sold out in a matter of weeks,” Sims said. And with a few issues still in stock, Stanford's bookstore received special requests for more.

As the calendar's popularity grew, so did Scottoline's. He received offers to appear on the Jenny Jones, Montel Williams and Mike and Matty television shows. Even a producer from a Japanese television station requested an interview.

"I think it's all the novelty of it," Scottoline said. "It's nothing new, my appearance. It's more that I don't think anybody's ever done something like that... showing scientists doing something other than their scientific work."

While Scottoline's swimmer's physique is a calendar selling point, Hopkin knew what she was doing when she chose him for the cover. Scottoline's other accomplishments certainly fit the description of "stud" in the scientific and athletic sense.

Aside from working in the laboratory, the 30-year-old completed the coursework required for a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Stanford. A simple dissertation is all that stands between Scottoline and a doctorate degree, that and medical school. Scottoline is also studying for an M.D. and should finish in 1997. With his Ph.D. in hand, Scottoline plans to work in the field of pediatric genetics. It's a field that holds special appeal for him. His older brother, Gary, was born with William's Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects roughly one in 50,000.

"Clinically, I'd like to do gene therapy," said Scottoline. "I'd like to try to correct people's problems, both adult’s and children's. The reason why pediatric genetics is appealing is because most of the genetic diseases that give people problems manifest themselves really early in life, either during birth or shortly thereafter."

In between experiments and studying, Scottoline trades in his lab coat for a swim suit, an hour a day, four days a week, to train with the Stanford University Masters program, coached by Ross Gerry and Judy Heller.

"I come here to relax," Scottoline said. "It's a break in the day. Otherwise, I'd work an ungodly long day."

An Olympic Trials qualifier in the 100-meter breaststroke during the two years he swam for the University of Southern California, Scottoline stopped competing in 1985. He came back to swimming regularly only two years ago. In the interim, he ran marathons and competed in triathlons to stay in shape.

"I trained a little bit for triathlons," Scottoline said, "but for the first four years I was (at Stanford), I didn't swim at all except to get in and have a good time. But I hated triathlons. They were too long and too brutal, and they're not that much fun."

Now as a competitive Masters swimmer, Scottoline continues to have a good time around the pool. His times in the pool aren't too shabby either. Scottoline clocks short course times of 23.8 in the 50 butterfly, 26.5 in the 50 breaststroke and 58.7 in the 100 breaststroke. And, at the USMS National Long Course Championships last August, Scottoline nabbed first place in the 50 butterfly and placed in the top three for the 50 breaststroke, 50 backstroke and 100 breaststroke in the 30-34 age group.

"If I took (swimming) too seriously, it would destroy doing it," Scottoline said. "What's fun about Masters swimming is the people who are in it are usually pretty motivated and have lots of talents. It's very impressive."

Hmmm, 12 months of talented Masters swimmers. Another calendar cover, Dr. January?

published in SWIM magazine, March-April 1996

Brian P. Scottoline lives in Redwood City, Calif., and swims for Stanford Masters.