Published on 1 August 2016
When Australia’s elite swimmers start racing in Rio, University of the Sunshine Coast student Lydia Jahnke will have a privileged insight into what it took to get them there.
The Sport and Exercise Science student has spent a 12-week placement working alongside the coaches of the USC Spartans high-performance swim squads, which includes 10 swimmers competing at the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Lydia, 20, jumped at the opportunity to assist Spartans coaches Chris Mooney and Jan Cameron with planning training sessions, practical coaching from the pool deck and coordinating the athletes’ support services.
Although her placement has finished, Lydia is still working with the Paralympic squad until it flies out to Rio.
The Wamuran resident has aspirations to build a career in coaching, and said she couldn’t imagine a better environment to help develop her skills.
“Jan and Chris are coaching legends, and working with them and the elite swimmers as they prepare for Rio has been an incredible opportunity,” Lydia said.
“As well as helping with stroke counts and timing, I’ve been able to assist with monitoring how the swimmers are progressing and evaluating their program.
“To have the high-performance swimming program right here, as part of the University, is pretty unique and it’s been great to utilise that relationship for my degree.”
Lydia particularly enjoyed the chance to be on the pool deck with the Spartans coaching staff at the Swimming Australia Grand Prix in Brisbane – the Olympic swimmers’ last hit-out before heading to Rio.
She said the placement had given her insight into the intricate processes that shaped an athlete’s performance on the world stage.
“There’s also a need to plan and facilitate all the swimmers’ support services, like massage, nutrition and strength training,” she said. “It’s a team effort, and all of those factors come down to 30 seconds in the pool.
“I’ll be glued to the TV screen when the Olympics and Paralympics begin, especially knowing how much work it has taken to get them there.”
USC’s Olympic squad is Australia’s only regional high-performance swimming squad, while the Paralympic squad is the only program of its kind outside of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
USC will hold its annual Imaginarium and Open Day at its Sippy Downs campus this Sunday 7 August from 10am to 2pm. For details go to: www.usc.edu.au/imaginarium.
— Gen Kennedy