Sport performance optimisation

Dr Andrew Govus has received funding from the Australian Institute of Sport to optimise adaptive athlete performance in swimming

While Australia had its best performance in the pool at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, further innovation in sport science and coaching is needed in the lead up to the nation’s home Brisbane 2032 Olympics.

Dr Andrew Govus has received funding from the Australian Institute of Sport to optimise adaptive athlete performance in swimming.

“Monitoring physiology and performance in swimming currently involves measuring lap times, split times, stroke characteristics, perceptual measures, heart rate and blood lactate variables at the poolside to make an inference about an athlete’s adaptive response to training,” explains Govus.

“These measures, however, only provide an estimate of a swimmer’s adaptive state and cannot determine how training, nutrition and recovery interventions alter a swimmer’s metabolism.”

The Swimmer’s Phenomics Project, led by Govus, will tap into new technologies – including epigenetic (gene regulation) and metabolic profiling methods – to optimise individualised training regimes for high-performance swimmers.

The project will monitor metabolic and epigenetic changes in male and female swimmers, in standardised, high-intensity training sessions over an eight-week period.

Govus and his team will then use this data to identify key markers for adaptation to training, undertake preliminary work on a blood monitoring panel to measure training responses.

The end goal is to use these findings to develop a point-of-care blood monitoring device over the next five years that offers real-time data about a swimmer’s response to coach-prescribed training and/or nutritional intervention.

Govus says that, if successful, molecular profiling methods could be used in other Olympic or professional sport.

“We hope to provide sport science support staff and coaches with rich information about how to individualise training, nutrition and recovery practices to optimise their athlete’s performance,” says Govus. “These new approaches may, indeed, be a game-changer in the professional sporting landscape.”