Swimming Australia has become particularly fond of altitude training under the administration of national team head coach Leigh Nugent, including biannual training trips to Mexico to practice in that country’s high-altitude environment. Now, The New South Whales Institute of Technology has teamed up with Altitude Technology Solutions to create what could effectively be described as a tunnel-of-altitude training.
This will take a huge financial burden off of Swimming Australia from having to ship a huge number of athletes halfway around the world to work in altitudes. The highest training facility in Australia is at the Thredbo ski resort, which sits about 1,200m above sea level, and this system will allow athletes to simulate an environment more similar to what they saw in Mexico and Arizona, which are at 1,800m or more.
The fact that it is NSW and the Sydney crew that have developed this system is actually sort of interesting. At the last, pre-Worlds training trip to San Luis Potosi, it was the Sydney swimmers (Geoff Huegill, James Magnussen, etc) who chose to stay home because they felt that the negative effects of the long traveling would far outweigh the benefits of the altitude training. One might argue they were right, given the spectacular performances that they put up in Shanghai at the World Championships.
Besides not having to travel, the temporary altitude environment will allow for the benefits of training in altitude without as much concern about the body’s correspondingly low tollerance for lactic acid in elevated environments and with a lower risk of mountain sickness that would be caused by spending full 24-hour days in altitude. At the same time, it will be interesting to see if the effects of acclimitization are as strong when the athletes are only in the altitude training environment for their 3 or 4 hours of training per day.
The full press release from Swimming Australia is below.
The NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) and Altitude Technology Solutions (ATS) will launch a revolutionary new altitude training system on Thursday, September 1st at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.
The new system, a pool-based training system, is a canopy which covers two, 25 metre lanes of a swimming pool. The design includes a hypoxic system that generates an environment similar to that experienced during altitude training.
The innovative, aquatic system is complemented by the Institute’s environment room, hypoxic tents and converted altitude motor home providing flexibility for non-aquatic options for athletes to train in an altitude environment.
The new system is a world first and only of its kind worldwide, giving the Institute’s athletes a distinct head start on their competitors. It will provide the opportunity for athletes to gain the advantages evidenced by altitude training in their home environment, foregoing the need to relocate overseas in the lead up to major events.
NSWIS Chief Executive Charles Turner is looking forward to the world first opportunities the system will provide, saying, “The Institute and our athletes are excited by the partnership with ATS, and the prospects of the sustained use of their products.
“Its mobility and the fact you can use the system for 12 months of the year in varied conditions provides a real boost ahead of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
“This is a cutting edge initiative by the NSWIS, giving Australia’s top swimmers exposure to a training stimulus which is available to few in the world,” said Australian swimming head coach, Leigh Nugent.
“This innovation will add value to the to the current suite of resources available in the NSWIS altitude program, which can only be advantageous to our swimmers as they prepare for London and Rio further down the track”.
The Institute’s Principal Scientist, Kenneth Graham, who will be on hand to launch the product, is looking forward to the results which may be achieved from the new system, saying, “Hypoxia can contribute to a greater rate of training adaptation by increasing the training stimulus and response. This can result in greater rates of improvement and completion performance.”
The ground breaking new system will be launched on Thursday, September 1st at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. The system will be launched by representatives from ATS as well as NSWIS Chief Executive Charles Turner and a selection of NSWIS swimmers including James Magnussen and Geoff Huegill.