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Swimmers take higher ground leading up to Rio

Australian Open Water Swimming Head Coach Ron McKeon
Australian Open Water Swimming Head Coach Ron McKeon.

03 Nov 2015


Australia’s open water swimming squad have been living in 3000 metre simulated altitude at the AIS in a bid to kick start to their season and qualify for Rio in Portugal next year.

Swimmers attended a two week “distance camp” at the AIS recently which served as the launch pad for what will be an exciting season.

Swimmers Chelsea Gubecka and George O’Brien have both stayed at the AIS Altitude House previously and believe it has had a positive effect on their training.

“We are looking for aerobic gains heading in to Olympic trials," said Gubecka, who finished 13th at the last world championships in Kazan.

“This camp combines heat training with altitude so we should see some big gains.”

O’Brien stayed in Altitude House last year in the lead up to a couple of world cups and felt it “had a really good effect on his racing”.

“We have had a bit of a break from training after the world championships so altitude is a really good way for us to get fit fast.”

The out of pool training is being supervised by AIS Dietician and Swimming Australia Senior Performance Science Manager Greg Shaw.

“My responsibility is to ensure the athletes don’t get “cooked” with the combined effects of living at 3000 metres and a tough pool training program." he said.

“The danger is we send the swimmers home in worse shape than when they arrived here through pushing them too hard.

“We have seen through years of research here at the AIS that if someone gets sick, doesn’t eat enough or loses significant body weight they just don’t have enough energy to build the new blood cells that altitude exposure is trying to achieve.

“We make sure the athletes are getting the right foods, fluids, rest and recovery to ensure this process can be maximised.

“We are very lucky to benefit from the world class knowledge the AIS has on altitude exposure. The Swimming Australia Open Water programme has really tapped in to this expertise to assist the swimmers.”

Australian Open Water Swimming Head Coach Ron McKeon said that the camp gives swimmers the opportunity to train with others in a pack.

“The majority of open water swimming daily training is pool based similar to 1500 metre programmes.”

Australia didn’t have an open water swimmer qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics at the recent World Championships in Kazan but McKeon is confident that situation will change in Portugal next June.

“Our athletes in Portugal will be very well prepared and I am confident that they can qualify for Rio by finishing in the top nine.”

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