More than 90 of Australia’s Dolphin elite swimmers and are wrapping up unique ‘Rio Protocol Camp‘ experience, which began this past Sunday in Canberra. The idea of the camp is to help prepare the athletes both mentally and physically for the unique prelims and finals timing they will face when in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren was very pleased with the how the athletes performed over the course of the camp and says most everyone “adapted very well”. He says the data captured by both mechanical monitors and human observation will be gathered to help develop each swimmer’s individual post-camp training regimen.
Said Verhaeren, “Overall they are swimming very well in the competition simulations and they’re handling themselves very well and taking good care of themselves and that’s really the base line where we should be. The meal times are very different, the times you rest are very different, but it’s still competition times and if they are focussed they will be ready for whatever.”
A key part of the camp was simulated competition race Wednesday night, which took place in short course meters. 2015 World Champion in both the 100m and 200m backstroke events, Mitch Larkin, threw down a swift 49.51 in the 100m back, a time just shy of his own Australian short course national record. The 49.51 was also faster than his time of winning 49.57 that claimed gold at the 2014 Short Course world Championships.
Cameron McEvoy, in an off-event for the freestyle specialist, clocked a personal best in the 100m backstroke by 3 seconds, registering a 51.31. Additionally, McEvoy scored a short course 50m freestyle time of 21.82.
“I just did a three-second PB in the 100m backstroke tonight so that’s another good sign that everything has been going well,” McEvoy said. “In the 50m freestyle I almost beat the time that I did at the World Short Course Championships last year in December, so that’s two races in one night where both races are pretty much the best I’ve ever done and they‘ve all been done really close to midnight so I guess it’s been pretty good so far!”
McEvoy also commented on how the camaraderie helps everyone actually adapt to the odd time schedule a tad more quickly. “When you’re walking through the dining hall at 1:30 in the morning and you’re having dinner, you’re not doing it alone, you look around and there’s 40/50 other people there with you. Just to go through such an unusual camp with everyone just brings us all closer together. We’re already good mates with each other and we get on really well, I even think that out camaraderie helps us to adapt quicker”, expressed McEvoy on the subject of team bonding at the camp.
The camp is also a unique opportunity for even the most experienced of Dolphins veterans to try something new. 3-time Olympian Grant Hackett said, “here I am 15 years later still swimming, having a go and really enjoying it.” With his ultimate goal of earning a roster spot for Rio, Hackett made it known that capturing such a spot “would be pretty unbelievable; it would be my fourth Olympics if I got the opportunity to go to Rio. So I’m training hard at the moment, improving all the time so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Of course athletes need to first conquer their own in-country Olympic trials, which are ripe with thick talent to try to beat out for a ticket to Rio. Verhaeren identifies this, saying the camp is first and foremost preparing us for trials. We’ve learned a lot during this camp…that is very valuable information regardless if you are swimming at midnight or not. So all in all it is a great kick off in the season and I’m very happy with it.”
The next prime-time competition for the Dolphins will be the Australian Short Course Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Center from November 26-28th.