Overseeing the largest high performance para squad in Queensland, USC Spartans' coach Nathan Doyle is keeping in close contact with his athletes while they undertake training programs at home.
Located on the Sunshine Coast, the team includes the likes of Paralympians Blake Cochrane – who is also in the Dolphins’ leadership group – Katja Dedekind, Braedan Jason and Jacob Templeton.
With Queenslanders having access to open water for exercise, Doyle has been encouraging his athletes to hit the beach so they can keep “in tune” with the water.
“It is fantastic on the Sunshine Coast, we’re really lucky the water temp is beautiful. I think we’ve had the best water conditions since the shutdown than we have had in the last 12 months – mother nature has turned it on for us from a training perspective and given us a perfect backyard to do some basic swimming,” he said.
“Our athletes have partnered up to go for a swim and I think it important to stay in the water if you can because as swimmers, we don’t like a lot of land based activity so it is a good way to stay connected and stay in tune with the water.”
Although it is unknown whether their exposure to open water training will provide any additional benefits when they return to the pool, Doyle says it is important to maintain a balancing act between swimming and land-based activities.
“A lot of the athletes have been doing running for aerobic fitness to supplement some of their training and I guess our key message to them, is when this is all over, we want them to come back as swimmers and not as marathon runners, so it’s really important they don’t go too overboard with the running as at the end of the day, they still have to be a swimmer.
“For example, Jake Templeton is a running machine and we have actually had to slow him down and modify his training as he ran 5km in around 17:20!”
Working with USC’s strength and conditioning staff, the majority of the squad is also taking part in a basic home gym program, utilising what equipment they already had and being creative with products around their home.
“The key focus with these program’s designed by the strength and conditioning department is on maintaining tendon load in their shoulders.
“Swimming is one of those unique sports to have tens of thousands of internal rotations per training session and now we are going to zero.
“Everyone is finding what they like and what they don’t like and having fun doing something a little bit different whilst staying at home looking after themselves.”
With staying connected as a squad just as important, weekly Zoom meetings are a way for athletes and coaches to stay engaged and keep across new information.
“Each Wednesday we have a Zoom meeting where we give our athletes up-to-date information on the virus and the latest health advice, and give them information on what is happening with the university. Some athletes don’t like watching the news, it can be too consuming, so we are making sure the most relevant information and important information is being passed on.
“Generally, it is just an opportunity to catch up and find out what people are doing, and I think everyone is quite interested and engaged in what different people are doing. It also gives us a landmark that there are only a few more days left in the week as every day seems to feel like the other.”
Doyle’s Advice for Junior Swimmers:
“I think the biggest tip I have is that it’s an opportunity to use your body in a different way because I think with swimmers sometimes you can be so confined to the water and the early mornings and going up and down the black line.
“Obviously we love fitness and we love being healthy and love being active, those don’t change, so if you take the opportunity to do something different – it might be going for a bike ride, going for a run, it might be simply just doing some land based activity at home with your siblings – whatever it might be, it is an opportunity to do things a little bit differently.
“Just remember this a temporary pause on our sporting lives and what’s important is when it all settles down that still have an opportunity to do things that we love and pick up from where we left off.”
Doyle on Routines:
“Personalities are often drawn to swimming for that routine base and I think those things would be really really important to maintain, so just like what you would do for a school day or a school week, set out your routine for the week.
“It is important that you write it down and that way mum and dad know what you are doing on that day and they can help support you – I think having a plan to have that structure also keeps you accountable.
“I think one thing we can do is sometimes we can do a little bit too much and it is not until it is on paper that we can look at it and see sometimes we might be overdoing it, so sometimes having the ability to write it down, record it, and then reflect on it is really important. I would encourage everyone to keep working with their coaches in that space as well.”