In the never-ending quest for competitive advantages, and by that we mean competitive advantages that do not involve government-backed application of performance enhancing drugs, the Australian swimming contingent for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games is using tents that simulate high altitude conditions to enhance their training.
The tents have an atmosphere that equals the conditions of an altitude of 3000 metres. The technique has become standard practice for elite athletes preparing for major competitions, but the prohibitive expense of travelling overseas or even to Canberra, where the Australian Institute of Sport has high altitude facilities, made the tents an attractive option for swimmers training in Brisbane.
With seven swimmers bound for Rio, the cost of sending all of them would exceed the modest training budget.
Two clear plastic tents, each containing four stationary bikes, have machinery to make the air thinner, which means the swimmers must train harder, which in turn helps them to reach peak training levels more quickly.
The training regimen also offers the benefit of introducing an element of novelty to traditional swim training, forcing athletes’ metabolism to adapt to new patterns and make their bodies and minds less prone to plateau from doing the same training repeatedly.