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Performing in Lycra

Environment and Language Guide

About the Guide

The Environment and Language Guide for Discussing and Managing Physique has been developed to be a best practice document, utilised by all in the Swimming community. It is intended to support the positive and sustainable development of a swimmer’s physique. It provides ideas on the why, when and how to talk about, and if necessary, measure and monitor physique throughout a swimmer’s life.

The guide can be accessed here – Swimming Australia Environment and Language Guide for Discussing and Managing Physique

 Who is it for?

The Guide has been specifically written to be useful and used by all stakeholders in the Swimming system (swimmers, coaches, health and performance support professionals, parents/carers and the institute network). Within the guide you will be able to identify the recommendations that are relevant to you and the role you play in building supportive environments for positive body conversations.

Why Language and Environment?

A swimmer’s training environment and the language used to discuss physique can overtly and inadvertently influence their behaviours. Without a thoughtful, purposeful approach to developing a physique optimised for performance, unhelpful behaviours (e.g., excessive exercise, restricting food, body image preoccupation) may manifest, ultimately compromising health.

A ‘Performing Swimmer’ has a physique that is not only optimised for performance, but that is also valued and respected by the individual. A Performing Swimmer develops their physique through positive, intentional behaviours that promote health, performance, and a resilient body image. They actively minimised behaviours that disrupt health and wellbeing, performance and body image.

The Guide and its recommendations support positive body conversations, focusing on building confidence in the process of optimising physiques for performance, while promoting healthy and body image resilience in the process.

What areas does the guide cover?

The Guide covers language and environmental considerations and recommendations across a variety of areas of physique management:

  • Swimmer eligibility considerations
  • The measurement process
  • Measurement interpretation
  • Intervention eligibility
  • Implementing and monitoring change

How was this guide developed?

This Guide was developed using a co-designed guideline development process.  The process utilised both a steering committee and working group to ensure that:

  • We drew on the latest evidence base
  • Represented the needs and contexts of all stakeholders
  • Drew on the expertise of professional experts in the areas
  • Reflected the expertise, knowledge and lived experiences of all stakeholders working in the system

The Steering Committee and Working Groups were made up of all stakeholder representations: swimmers, coaches, health and performance support professionals, parents/carers, and research and practice professionals.

How does it work?

The below gives an example of one of the Guide areas and an idea of the type of detail the Guide contains as well as how it can be used by various stakeholders.