As head of one of the largest high performance Para-swimming squads in Australia, USC Spartans coach Nathan Doyle is keeping in close contact with his athletes while they undertake training programs at home.
Among those athletes are Paralympians Blake Cochrane, Katja Dedekind, Braedan Jason and Jacob Templeton, who have all been encouraged to hit the beach during the COVID-19 pandemic – Queenslanders can access open water for exercise.
“It is fantastic on the Sunshine Coast,” said Doyle. “We’re really lucky the water [temperature] is beautiful. I think we’ve had the best water conditions since the shutdown than we’ve 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.
“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 the University of the Sunshine Coast’s strength and conditioning staff, Doyle’s athletes are also participating in home gym programs, using the equipment they already have and being creative with products around their homes.
“The key focus with these programs 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.”
Equally important, however, is staying connected, with Doyle hosting weekly Zoom meetings.
“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 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.”
By Swimming Australia
Photo with thanks to Swimming Victoria