Commonwealth Games: Outdoor pool causing ripples of concern among swimmers

A swimmer training in the outdoor pool at the Gold Coast Optus Aquatic Centre in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
A swimmer training in the outdoor pool at the Gold Coast Optus Aquatic Centre in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Backstrokers struggle with lack of overhead reference points, heated water also an issue

GOLD COAST (Australia) • Some swimmers have taped over their goggles while others will be hitting ice baths as they grapple with the challenges of an outdoor pool at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, which begin tomorrow.

Leading backstrokers Kylie Masse of Canada and Australian Emily Seebohm have been working on ways to avoid veering into the lane ropes in the open-air pool, which gives them no overhead reference points.

World-record holder Masse has been training outdoors in preparation, while Australia's three-time world champion Seebohm has been swimming in semi-blacked out goggles in a bid to adjust.

"We knew it was coming so I tried to swim outdoors as much as possible this year to kind of prepare myself," Masse said. "A number of times you can be doing a really fast set or something then all of a sudden, wham, you hit the lane rope."

Australian coaching staff have come up with some inventive solutions to help their swimmers at the pool. Seebohm said she had worked on improving her peripheral vision in the last month using partially taped goggles.

"We started taping our goggles so we could only see out the sides, but we won't know what it's like until we're actually outside again," she added.

Seebohm is bidding for her third consecutive Games gold medal in the 100m backstroke, after winning in Delhi and Glasgow, and Masse broke an eight-year world record with 58.10sec to win the world title in Budapest last year.

Another concern is that the warm pool temperature under the Gold Coast sun will affect some of the competitors, notably Australia's Olympic 400m freestyle champion Mack Horton.

Horton knows he has to cool down his body temperature after overheating during the 1,500m freestyle at last month's national selection trials in the Games pool.

"We will have ice baths at the pool... so when we get back, we can cool down," Horton said.

Elsewhere, India has been cleared of any wrongdoing yesterday after banned syringes were found in the vicinity of rooms occupied by the country's boxing team.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Medical Commission found that there was no breach of doping regulations, but the country may still be sanctioned for violating the no-needle policy.

A hearing will take place today to determine the next course of action and any possible punishment.

India's boxing coach Santiago Nieva had denied any doping had taken place and claimed the injection had been a "vitamin substance".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2018, with the headline 'Outdoor pool making waves'. Print Edition | Subscribe