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Sailing Teams Gear Up For Fitness Camp at Olympic Training Center

Contact: Marni Lane,, 617-671-8332

More than 60 members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics and the US Sailing Development Team are participating in an action-packed training camp at the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) official Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. March 18-21. Olympic class sailing requires intense muscular endurance with cardiovascular strength and power, so athletes must be in the best shape of their lives to win medals. And it’s not just about running or doing crunches: Athletes must also focus on their mental stamina and their nutritional health in order to fully reach their potential and achieve Olympic success.

Graham BiehlThis training camp will focus on sailing-specific fitness education and testing, in addition to seminars on concentration/focus, visualization and nutrition. Led by the Olympic Sailing Program’s High Performance Director/Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen and Olympic Coach Luther Carpenter, the clinic will provide athletes the opportunity to customize an elite fitness plan that matches the boats they sail, as well as their positions on the boats, in order to reach their performance goals.

“Our priority is always to spend time on the water, so being in Colorado Springs, without water nearby, is a great opportunity for our teams to work on other skills needed to compete at the highest level,” says Andreasen.  “We are taking a very methodical approach to finding out how to access the best in each individual athlete.”

As soon as the athletes arrive at the Olympic Training Center on Thursday, they’ll be put to the test to assess their current fitness level by doing a series of sailing-specific exercises. New team members will be able to set a baseline for their fitness, while veteran team members will measure how their scores compare to last year’s fitness camp in Chula Vista, Calif., and how those scores directly correlate to their performance on the water this year.

Trainers Chris Herrera, Brandon Sebald and Tara Eddings will then lead several learning sessions broken into boat-specific groups, and the  with similar needs, including full body/power, core, lower body and upper body. The exercises will be customized for the athlete’s boat and his or her position, because a Laser sailor hikes differently than a 49er sailor on a trapeze. The athletes will then be able to work with the trainers to build a customized and realistic fitness and workout plan going forward.

“We want our athletes to leave the camp educated about their fitness levels, how to train better and how that will translate into results," says Herrera, co-owner of Bow Down Training and Jaguar PT.

Anna TunnicliffeBeing in top mental shape is also crucial for Olympic performance, so athletes at the camp will learn key exercises to manage stress on the race course and in training. Prior to the camp, athletes completed a confidential, 240-question personality test that identify their personality strengths and weaknesses. According to sport psychologist Rick Campbell, it’s important for an athlete to understand if he or she has the propensity to get angry, anxious or depressed if he or she gets a bad result.  If so, the athlete needs to practice key exercises to train the brain to respond differently, in order to control his or her emotions, stay calm and focused. As a result, the athlete will be better equipped to face the next task at hand and ultimately achieve his or her goals.
“Typically, elite athletes know how to stay in the moment – they don’t look too far back or too far in the future,” says Campbell. “In general, they are good at handling failure. They don’t get anxious, angry or depressed if something goes wrong. They respond and not react.”

Campbell will teach athletes skills to use on the race course and in challenging situations. He explains that the athlete who has positive mental endurance during competition, such as a regatta, will have the advantage over the athlete who cannot relax and stay in the zone. 

“You can’t be focused when you’re angry because the emotional center of your brain overrules the thinking part of your brain,” says Campbell, who trains athletes to take deep, slow breaths in stressful situations. “Air is nature’s Valium.”

For photos and interviews during the training camp, please check the US Sailing Teams web site and follow the teams on Facebook and Twitter.

[Photo credit: Walter Cooper/ US SAILING]