PHOENIX, Arizona, December 14. IF you follow the Istanbul World Championships as closely as we are here at Swimming World, perhaps you've also noticed a giant Mediterranean monk seal parading around on the pool deck. He goes by the name of "Badem," (which translates to "Almond" in English) and was chosen as this year's mascot to raise awareness of the heavily endangered mammalian species. There are reportedly fewer than 600 remaining in the wild.
The aquatic mammal is typically found in the Northeastern section of the Mediterranean sea and in several parts off the coast of Africa. It's range falls along the coastline of Turkey, the host country for World Championships.
Although individuals of the species are typically solitary animals, "Badem" makes an effort to socialize with young fans.
Image Courtesy of: FINA Istanbul 2012
Another mascot International swimming spectators were treated to this year was the "Dancing Yakult," a Japanese probiotic milk-like product anthropomorphized for the FINA World Cup meets. Put some eyes, a huge red smile and a pair of Mickey-mouse-inspired gloves on a milk cup, and it becomes downright cute.
Image Courtesy of: Yakult Milk Products
Yakult has been a sponsor of the FINA World Cup Circuit since 2005.
At the start of World Championships, the two mascots got a bit of comparison:
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