Aussie Olympic coaches encouraging late nights and sleep-ins
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian swimming team is fine-tuning a routine for late nights and sleep-ins as it prepares for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The 47 swimmers and 33 support staff and coaches are in camp this week at the Australian Institute of Sport, where they’re simulating the schedule they’ll have to contend with in Rio — heats in the early afternoon, with finals from 10 p.m. until midnight. They’re all wearing sleep and activity watches to collect data for the duration of the camp.
“It is a great opportunity to kick off the season and to get a lot of things sorted from a medical point of view and nutrition,” Australia’s head coach Jacco Verhaeren said Tuesday. “A great focus here is sleep and recovery strategies so we are prepared for Rio.”
Swimming Australia said Shona Halson, the head of recovery at the AIS, will analyze the data and develop strategies that maximize sleep, recovery and performance without the need for medication.
It’s not a program that suits the typical swimmer in Australia, where they’re usually up early for training.
On Monday and Tuesday, everyone trained from 1-3 p.m., had lunch between 5-6 p.m. then trained again from 10 p.m. until midnight, followed by dinner.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the program called for racing from 1-3 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. until midnight.
Olympic relay gold medalist Cate Campbell said she usually likes to get 10 hours of sleep each night, but has managed to adjust her routine for the camp.
“I really rely on sleep and some people call me ‘The Bear’ for my hibernating,” Campbell said. “Sleep quality and duration is very important and it is so good to do this preparation now. It is about changing your mindset and getting the most out of this camp.”
Her sister, Bronte Campbell, said she was enjoying the experiment.
“It’s just like adapting to jet lag for us and we have our fancy sleep watches on all the time collecting lots of data to see what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong — it is really a great experiment for us.”
The Australian Olympic Committee has reinforced its ban on the use of sleeping medication for athletes after the men’s 4x100-meter freestyle relay team was fined and sanctioned by the team for using Stillnox at a camp in Manchester leading up to the 2012 London Olympics.
Stillnox was not a banned substance, but the AOC prohibited Australian athletes from using it after former Olympic champion Grant Hackett revealed he became dependent on sleeping pills during his career.