How Fitbit has helped our international swimmers
A PARTNERSHIP with Fitbit will allow some of Swimming Australia's top athletes an extra insight to their World Championships preparations.
Announced last month, Swimming Australia has entered into a partnership with the "leader in the connected health and fitness market".
It will allow more than 100 athletes, coaches, and staff an unprecedented insight as they prepare for both the World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City and the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Paralympic Program Director and triple Olympian Adam Pine said Swimming Australia came across the devices last year, and struck a deal which would see Fitbit become the official suppliers for the national sporting body.
"It's an ongoing partnership that will allow us some insights into athletes' training, sleeping and activity outside the pool that do affect and have an outcome on performance," Pine said.
So what can the Fitbit, which burst onto the market as a high-tech step-counter, do to help our nation's top athletes?
According to Pine, the most beneficial features are its heart rate monitor and sleep tracker.
"The daily resting heart rates and the changes in that, as well as the peaks and time spent in certain zones is important, but the important ones are the sleep and heart rate," Pine said.
"The other benefit is the step count.
"Leading into competition we want our athletes to be fit and rested. We want an understanding into what the step counts are in the home environment and the daily training environment, and away at competitions and camps and other things, then we'll have a good understanding of what out base line is, and if they're doing too many other activities that affects performance in the pool."
Pine, a former gold medal-winning swimmer himself, said the advancement in technology should be seen as a positive.
He compared it to how coaches operated decades ago, whose only real data was a log book in which the coach recorded an athlete's activity.
"With Fitbit, we have data from the last two years with our swimmers that shows us what their average sleep hours are, their step counts; across this huge period that is hugely beneficial," he said.
"In terms of health and wellbeing, the heart rate is another good indication when people are becoming susceptible to illness or working at a higher rate and different loads of training, and coming up to peak training and having a good understanding of where people are and how their bodies are adapting to it."
It is the adaptation to certain conditions that is true game-changer.
With the World Para Swimming Championships for example, the competition will be swum in a pool at 2300m above sea level.
The highest Australian pool sits at 1600m.
"Science and reviewing how people adapt and travel and effects of altitude will be hugely important for us," Pine said.
"We're actually using the Fitbit device in express altitude exposure camps with some athletes before we go, just to provide some exposure, and the heart rate is one of the things that will be the most important thing for us in terms of what it's like to adapt to altitude.
"Data shows us 200 hours to adapt to altitude.
"We won't have a full adaptation for our team but we just want to create some exposure and make them aware of what it will be like, and part of that is about tracking health and wellness and Fitbit will be a great device to enable us to do that."