Aussie Swimmers Eat Dinner At 1am While Attending Rio Protocol Camp

With the Senior and Junior World Championships, as well as individual countries’ summer nationals having now concluded, all eyes are turned to Rio and the unique preparations needing to be considered in light of what some have said is an “anti-athlete schedule.”

As announced late last year, Olympic organizers have finalized a swimming events schedule which has prelims starting at 1pm local time and finals taking place at 10pm in order to accommodate American TV broadcasters.  That time converts to the following time slots for various locations:

  • Noon/9PM U.S./Canada East Coast time
  • 9AM/6PM U.S/Canada West Coast Time
  • Midnight/9AM Perth/Beijing Time
  • 1AM/10AM Tokyo Time
  • 2AM/11AM Sydney Time
  • 6PM/3AM Moscow Time
  • 5PM/2AM London Time
  • 6PM/3AM South Africa Time

For countries such as Australia, the event timing is calling for preparation camps to assimilate the Rio schedule as much as possible in order to swimmers to get acclimated prior to the 2016 Olympic Games.  More than 90 of the Dolphins’ elite swimmers and coaches will be partaking in such preparation in the form of a 5-day training and competition camp in Canberra beginning next Sunday, September 13th.

In what is being touted as a “Rio Protocol Camp”, swimmers such as Emily Seebohm, Mitch Larkin, James Magnussen, Cate and Bronte Campbell and Cameron McEvoy will be engaging in waking, training, eating sleeping and competition that all assimilates the sequence of events for Brazil, complete with hi-tech sleep monitors to track the athletes along the unique process.

The data output from the monitors will be analyzed by scientists to measure the athletes’ quality of sleep following the training.  Data regarding food intake and its impact on performance will also be analyzed. The camp will also teach swimmer’s “natural therapies” like meditation and yoga to assist their recovery, a priority given the Australian Olympic Committee’s heavy ban of hypnotic medications, including Stilnox. (Perth Now).

Says Australian Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren, “The timing of competition in Rio will be very different to what we’re used to. We’re looking at heats between 1 and 3pm and finals between 10pm and midnight. It’s fair to say, a successful athlete that has drug-testing, press conference, moving back to the Olympic team village, having dinner and going to bed — their bed time could be between three and 4am. That’s something that has never been done before, so nobody really has any experience with it.”

Specifically, Verhaeren says that  “The aim of the camp is to experience the (different) times and experience what is going to be required (in Rio) to keep yourself fit and focused during those eight days of competition and also, what will be needed in the lead-up to prepare ourselves for that timetable. We’re the first country in the world to experience something like this and I really believe this gives us a head-start for the rest of the preparation.” (Perth Now)

Below is a sample schedule of a “day in the life” of an Australian Rio Protocol camper:


Midday: Breakfast
11.15am-12.15pm: All coaches and support staff meeting
1-3pm: Training Session
2-4pm: Recovery
5-8pm: Lunch
6-8pm: Free time; yoga, meet with sports psychologist, nap, listen to music, meditate
8.30pm: Warm-up; take supplements, 30-mins stretching, practice starts, turns, 400m slow swim.
10pm-midnight: Competition simulation for all short and long course swimmers
11pm-12.30am: Recovery and cool down
1am: Dinner
2am: Bedtime

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Coach Mike 1952

I recognize this kind of preparation will in all likelihood be necessary, but is there no way around the insistence by American broadcasters to subject our dedicated athletes to such – well, let’s call it straight – abuse?

Coach Mike 1952

Preparation like this is wise regardless, that’s for sure. Let me add recalling doing a 100-mile marathon relay swim in the late 1960’s and we were swimming in 1,000 yard shifts around the clock for 36 hours, so it IS doable, but afterwards we all felt like mush for a week or so.

Coach Mike 1952

My comments were by no means an endorsement of the changed schedule, just a comment that it can be done. However, the late 60’s event, I would have preferred to do it way differently. In a choice between corporate control vs. athlete’s well-being, no-brainer for the athletes.


8:30pm “take supplements” – what kind of message is that?


Precisely what is says. Dietary supplements are something you’ll find the overwhelming majority of elite/professional sportspeople using in some form or another.

They CAN, most certainly, venture into distinctly “grey areas” with regards to the precise composition and have been the downfall of many who were NOT exercising due caution.

One would think all major swim teams do/will be exercising full “due diligence” with regards to what their swimmers are taking/clearing with the sports medical side.

Gina Rhinestone

I think the team is pretty limited ie there will be no newbies . Can’t see why they all don’t sleep in till 11 , have breakfast , go shopping , train 1-3 ,eat , rest , check their social media , have a nap , take supplements , watch a movie , train 11-1am , eat then sleep . Sounds good . I’ve often driven past pools at midnite & thought – that would be a nice time to swim . It’s not as if any of them are doing much else that will be missed by the nation . Go for it – whether the makei or not , it will be a memorable year. I’d be happy… Read more »

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