Australian swimmer Emma McKeon says she is already making adjustments to prepare for morning races in Tokyo. Picture: Getty Images
Australian swimmer Emma McKeon says she is already making adjustments to prepare for morning races in Tokyo. Picture: Getty Images

Aussie swimmers warned to prepare for morning finals

Australia's Olympic swimming hopefuls have been warned they need to get their heads around the idea of racing finals in the morning if they want to win medals in Tokyo later this year.

Just as they did in Beijing in 2008, the International Olympic Committee has switched the swimming finals from night to day so they will take place during U.S. prime time television, starting at 10am Tokyo time (11am AEST).

That's another huge advantage for America's swimmers while for the Dolphins it means changing their body clocks so they are ready to go flat at a time when they normally take it a bit easier.

"I'm not actually much of a morning person even though I wake up so early. I'm trying to become a morning person," said Emma McKeon, Australia's most successful swimmer at Rio in 2016 when she scooped up four medals.

 

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"At the Olympics, even with morning heats you still have to swim fast.

"I'm just doing what I can now to practice with that, working on my sleeping and things like that, having naps in the day to replicate doing a heat in the night."

"It will be hard to juggle but I'm excited for it."

McKeon's coach Michael Bohl said adjusting to morning finals was all just a state of mind.

"The ones that think like that won't swim fast in Tokyo they might need to change their mindset some so I'll have a word to Emma," he said.

"Going into Beijing, it was exactly the same so we have got experience with that.

"All's it's really doing is shifting the mindset."

Australian swim coach Jacco Verhaeren says adjusting to morning swimming is a ‘mindset.’ Picture: AAP
Australian swim coach Jacco Verhaeren says adjusting to morning swimming is a ‘mindset.’ Picture: AAP

McKeon is among a group of Australian swimmers being sent to the U.S. in April to race at a meet where morning finals have been scheduled with the Olympics in mind but there will be precious little time for most swimmers to make the adjustment back home.

The finals for the Australian Olympic trials, due to be held in Adelaide in late June, will be held at night, leaving the swimmers that make the team just five weeks to turn their focus around to day time.

Australia's head coach Jacco Verhaeren told The Daily Telegraph consideration was given to moving the timing of the trials in line with Tokyo but it was decided to stick with the traditional sessions.

"We even discussed this with Channel 7 for example but we all landed with 'no we're going to stick to the same because we have enough time to switch in five weeks time and focus on the Olympic finals in the morning," he said.

"Of course you need to adjust but everyone will be ready to perform in the morning. It's a mindset."

Australia angrily opposed the initial decision to switch the finals in Beijing to the morning but ended up winning six gold medals.

 

Australian swimmers (l-r) Bronte Barratt, Kylie Palmer, Linda Mackenzie and Stephanie Rice celebrate with their gold medals after they won the 4x200m freestyle relay final in Beijing.
Australian swimmers (l-r) Bronte Barratt, Kylie Palmer, Linda Mackenzie and Stephanie Rice celebrate with their gold medals after they won the 4x200m freestyle relay final in Beijing.

Stephanie Rice won three herself and broke the world records in both the 200m and 400 individual medleys and Bohl, who was her coach then, said there were some tricks swimmers could do to prepare.

"I know one of the things that we did in Beijing - we took the swimmers down to the pool early in the morning before the finals were on so we went down to the pool at 7am in the morning and swam, went back and had breakfast and went back for the finals at the pool later that morning.

"So it's just doing those things and incorporating that into your home program, to try and get them read.

"The big part of it is just the mindset needs to change because if you are not ready there will be other swimmers there that will be ready to go with that."



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