Staying Sassy at SASI

Posted in: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Nearly 4 months in now and I can say that deciding to move to Adelaide to spend my placement year at the South Australian Sports Institute has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

In my second blog I spoke about some of the work that I have done in Talent Search so I wanted to use this blog to talk a bit about the work that I have been doing recently.

A great feature of working at SASI is how it is a multidisciplinary team, so I have got to observe and work shadow lead practitioners in many different areas of Sport Science. My placement has enabled me to see the different areas of SASI which have included Physiology, Talent Search and Strength and Conditioning. I have also worked with the Australian Paralympic Committee, who are based at SASI. This has been extremely advantageous as I have been exposed to different teams and different areas of Sport Science. As I am not entirely sure what area I want to go into yet, this has been a nice introduction to some of the pathways that I could follow in. It has also allowed me to develop a good rapport with many different staff members.

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The ‘Bathies’ at the SASI Awards this year – us Brits scrub up well!

Exercise Physiology

Exercise Physiology is defined as the identification of physiological mechanisms underlying physical activity and the delivery of treatment services concerned with the analysis, improvement and maintenance of health and fitness. At SASI, this is related to elite athletes, and elite sport, so the goal in Exercise Physiology at SASI is to improve athletic performance through various means and as a result help South Australian athletes to win medals at the Olympic Games. As a Physiology placement student at SASI, I have helped with the field and lab testing conducted by the Exercise Physiologists. In the lab, I have helped to run Haemoglobin mass and lactate threshold tests. The haemoglobin mass test was to evaluate the effect of a block of altitude training amongst 3 of the SASI kayakers. The lactate threshold tests were to determine the training thresholds for the U23 rowers, and some of the kayakers. This type of testing helps to quantify athletes’ training, so they know essentially how intense to train (in terms of heart rate, VO2, power output and stroke rate) for them to accrue performance benefits such as increased aerobic fitness, or more anaerobic speed and power. I have also helped with field testing, such as conducting the beep test, agility tests, sprint times and vertical jump for hockey, beach volleyball and netball athletes.

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A SASI rower being tested in the Exercise Physiology lab. They were carrying out a 7x4 test to determine their lactate thresholds and the associated variables, and some maximal data including heart rate and VO2.

Alongside the testing, I have also learnt about load monitoring, and how coaches and exercise physiologists do constant monitoring of athletes, through a plethora of performance and general wellbeing measures, to ensure that training effects are maximised. This has involved me being exposed a range of new computing programmes such as PolarFlow, Adapt, Training Peaks, Athlete Monitoring System, and to some of the more advanced features of Excel.

Strength and Conditioning

As part of our placement, we have been given the opportunity to complete our Level 1 Australian Strength and Conditioning Association qualification which now that we have all passed (yay!), we are qualified strength and conditioning coaches. As part of this, we had to observe 30 hours of strength and conditioning coaching in the SASI gym, which enabled us to observe many different athletes in a large variety of sports train, and see the types of training that the coaches have prescribed. As a result, we now supervise the SASI Staff training hours, where we are able to offer our insight and expertise to the staff members (although most are way fitter and more qualified than me so it ends up being a very quiet session!).

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It’s not every day that you get to see Olympic athletes train, or better yet, go to an awards night and have a drink with them! On the left is myself and Kyle Chalmers, Australian superstar swimmer who bagged himself two gold medals and one bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games, at his first international swimming event and aged only 18! On the right is myself and Anna Meares (I hope that you didn’t need the explanation), world famous and world best (sorry Vikky P) cyclist, another Olympian who won a bronze medal at Rio, to add to her collection.

Australian Paralympic Committee

As it was pretty quiet for me in Exercise Physiology post Olympics, I asked the Australian Paralmpic Committee (APC) if they needed any help or had any jobs for me to do. They readily accepted my offer, and ever since I have been working on a Post-Olympic performance profiling database and now report for Swimming Australia. This has involved me recording every medallist in every Paralympic swimming event from the games alongside some historical data such as their first Paralympic and World Champ appearance and time, details of their impairment, annual best times over the past 8 years, and many other details. Now that I have done all of the data entry, I am helping the Australian Paralympic Skill Acquisitioner write a report for Swimming Australia about the classes that Australia can target to win more medals, or identify which classes / events Australia performed the best in at the games. This has been a great project, as it has exposed me to Paralympic sport, and what can be done with numbers, and the wonderful Excel!

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A Silver Paralympic medal from the Rio Paralmypic games that I got the pleasure of seeing (and holding!!), won by Sam Von Einem in table tennis, a proud SASI athlete, and overall legend.

Posted in: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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