Looking Like Zac Efron Is Michael Hixon's Second Greatest Accomplishment

Michael Hixon has gotten far more out of his Olympic success than a silver medal

Michael Hixon knows you think he looks like Zac Efron.

The 22-year-old from Amherst, Massachusetts, has understood that people see a resemblance between him and the Hollywood actor long before winning an Olympic silver medal in men’s synchronized diving (3m springboard) during the Rio Games, and long before he and Efron took a photo together in Rio that was featured on Efron’s Instagram.


In fact, Hixon’s friends at Indiana University diving camp would joke with him and try to get him to perform High School Musical songs as Efron during the talent portion of camp every summer. Last summer, Hixon obliged and performed “We’re All In This Together” from High School Musical.

Hixon says that he and synchro partner Sam Dorman were chatting about how the latter—who is a professional and can make money off the sport—could “get his name out there.”

“We were just joking,” Hixon tells GOOD, “and we said for me, if I were a pro, I would try to get something off of [looking like] Zac Efron—how would I reach out to him.”

Then came the men’s 200.

“It just so happened that we ran into each other at the track while we were both there watching Usain Bolt,” he says.

And so came the photo.

Hixon, who is a ball of energy when preparing for a dive during competition, purports to be much lower key when not near the water. “I would say that I am much calmer outside of the pool than I am at training,” he says. “I dedicate most of my time to school and diving, so beyond that I try to relax as much as I can.”

It was a while before he got the chance. Hixon’s post-medal ride continued back in the States, as he—alongside five other Olympians born or living in New England—threw out the first pitch on August 28 at Fenway Park ahead of the Red Sox’s game against the Royals, which was televised on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.”

“Every kid in Massachusetts grows up watching the Sox and to actually get on the field at Fenway was beyond my wildest dreams,” Hixon told the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“You always think of Fenway Park as the coolest ballpark in America,” he tells GOOD. “My dad has been a Sox fan his whole life, so for him to be on the field was pretty awesome.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything that cool in my life.”

Diving in

Long before winning a silver medal, hobnobbing with Hollywood heartthrobs, and taking the field at his beloved Fenway, Hixon inherited his love of diving from his mother. Mandy Hixon is the longtime head men’s and women’s diving coach at the University of Massachusetts, where she is entering her 16th season. (Hixon’s father David is the legendary men’s basketball coach at Amherst College, giving Michael quite a sports pedigree.) Michael Hixon started going to his mother’s practices at a young age and eventually caught the itch. He couldn’t just watch anymore. He wanted to dive, too.

And he dove well, winning or medaling at multiple national and international tournaments throughout his junior and high school career. He then won two NCAA Championships as a college freshman at Texas en route to being named the NCAA Diver of the Year.

It was during this highly successful year at Texas that Hixon began to grasp his potential to “get to the next level” in diving. So he shocked many observers and transferred to Indiana to dive with Team USA diving coach Drew Johansen, who made Hixon “believe the Olympics, as well as a medal, were attainable.”

But potential is just that, and transferring was just a step toward fulfillment of that potential. According to Hixon’s close friend Allie Mata, Hixon routinely would get up an hour before early morning workouts to get extra cardio work in.

“He made a huge decision when deciding to transfer and he did that because he knew it was what was best for him,” Mata says. “He worked harder than anyone in the country to make that team and deserved every second of it.”

The hard work paid off in Rio, with Hixon qualifying for the finals in the 3m springboard and synchronized 3m springboard, winning silver in the latter with Dorman. Then, of course, came the Efron-related notoriety and the night at the ballpark.

It’s easy for Mata to be happy for Hixon. Asked for three words to describe her friend, Mata says, “Loyal, passionate, deserving. And humble. Sorry, I couldn’t pick three. We love him to pieces.”

Back to Work

Now Hixon is back home again in Indiana, embracing his regular grind of classes and diving practices in Bloomington. In fact, it’s helping him avoid the post-Olympics depression some athletes deal with following the games.

“The Olympics is quite a grind in itself,” he says. “It’s a month long, you’re living in—you know, it’s not a five-star hotel. You’re not eating at five-star restaurants.

“It's a grind. You’re obviously happy to be there because it’s this grand stage and what you live for, but I’m really happy to be back. I love the routine, I love Bloomington, I love school with my friends.”

Hixon notes that he’s not anything special at Indiana. He hardly gets recognized in classes or on the street, and he hasn’t gotten any special treatment. His first practice back with his Indiana diving team didn't include any special celebrations or pranks. The Hoosiers, in fact, had 11 swimming and diving Olympians, including Lilly King—five of whom won medals in Rio. “We had [Lilly] out there wagging her finger at people,” he jokes. “I’m not even that big of a deal around here.”

Hixon has every intention of returning to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He hopes to qualify for the same events in which he competed in Rio—the men’s synchronized 3m springboard and men’s 3m springboard. And that, of course, will require more of the work ethic he displayed while training for the 2016 Summer Games.

“The top level of diving is as physically demanding as any sport out there,” he says. “I’m really excited to get back to training. We have a lot of goals to start attacking for this upcoming Olympic quad.”

In the meantime, he has a lot to look forward to on land, most notably serving as best man at his best friend’s wedding next month in Kansas City. And he even has diving to thank for that. Hixon met Darian Schmidt, who is engaged to Allie Mata, six years ago when they began diving together in synchro competitions. Schmidt is three years older than Hixon and was still finishing up his degree at Indiana when Hixon transferred there.

“If I know Allie, their wedding will be a way better party than the Olympic village,” he jokes.

The spotlight will not be Hixon’s on that October night, but based on how highly he speaks of his friends, it’s clear there’s no place he’d rather be.

Not even at Fenway Park.

Sports
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

RELATED: A ridiculous dad transformed Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy' into a 3-minute long musical dad joke

While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

Lifestyle
via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur

The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.

Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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Communities
via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

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Viral


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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