Annual Olympic and Paralympic Training Camps Prepare Athletes for Upcoming European Season
March is Spring Training season for more than 75 members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) and the US Sailing Development Team (USSDT) who were put through the paces of physical fitness testing during two training camps this month. The Paralympic class athletes headed to the Lakeshore Foundation, an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Birmingham, Ala., March 3-6, while the Olympic class athletes convened in Colorado Springs, Colo. March 17-20 at the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) official Olympic Training Center. The annual camps are required for members of the sailing teams and gauge all athletes’ preparedness for the upcoming European season.
“Working with the USOC helps us take advantage of the latest technologies within physical training, and we are excited to give our athletes the right tools to make the necessary improvements to their workouts, routines, and setup,” said Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.), US SAILING’s High Performance Director/Head Coach. “Our team is in great shape and with over a year until the Paralympic and Olympic Games, we are right where we want to be.”
Olympic and Paralympic class sailing requires intense endurance with cardiovascular strength and power, and athletes must be in elite condition to win medals. It’s not just about running or lifting weights, like the casual sailor. Professional athletes must also focus on their mental stamina and their nutritional health in order to fully reach their potential and achieve international success.
The training camps focused on sailing-specific education and testing, and provided seminars on media training, communication, body composition and sport nutrition. Paralympic Coach Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.) was joined by sports psychologists Rick Campbell (Wilmington, N.C.) and Randy White (Southport, N.C.), and the medical evaluation and testing was supervised by Dr. Anne Allen (Wilmington, N.C.).
Olympic Coaches Luther Carpenter (Houston, Texas) and Leandro Spina (Miami, Fla.) joined Coach Andreasen to oversee the athletes’ individual elite fitness plans, which were tailored to the demands of the boats they sail. Long-time member of USSTAG’s performance enhancement team, Dr. Sam Murray (Charleston, S.C.) met with athletes on overall physical goals, while strength and conditioning coach Chris Herrera (Miami, Fla.) of Jaguar PT/Bow Down Training joined sport nutritionist Bob Seebohar (Colorado Springs, Colo.) of Fuel4mance to customize the training in order to reach performance goals.
Throughout each weekend, the Olympic and Paralympic class athletes took part in training sessions with emphasis on full body/power, core, lower body and upper body. The exercises were customized for the athlete’s boat and his or her position, because a Laser sailor hikes differently than a 49er sailor on a trapeze, and a Sonar sailor has different demands in the boat compared to the way a 2.4mR sailor operates a boat. The athletes worked with the trainers to build customized and realistic fitness and workout plans that can be utilized regardless of their location.
“It’s important for an athlete to understand if an athlete has an inclination to get angry or anxious if he or she gets a bad result,” said sports psychologist Rick Campbell. He worked with the Paralympic class athletes on communications exercises to control emotions, stay calm and focused. He explained 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.
All areas of an athlete’s performance were tested. New team members were able to set a baseline for their fitness, while veteran team members measured how their scores compare to last year’s fitness camp.
The next event for US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics is the 2011 Princess Sofia Trophy (Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE) in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Scheduled for April 4-9, it is the third stop on the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup circuit. For more information www.trofeoprincesasofia.org.
For photos during the training camps, please visit the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics website. To follow the teams in Spain, check in with USSTAG’s ISAF Sailing World Cup results hub or follow the team on Facebook and Twitter.