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John Kenny, SarahJane Cullen, and Giles D. Warrington

Purpose:

“Ice-mile” swimming presents significant physiological challenges and potential safety issues, but few data are available. This study examined deep body temperature (BT), respiratory rate (RR), and swim performance in 2 swimmers completing an ice-mile swim of 1 mile (1600 m) in water less than 5°C.

Methods:

Two male cold-water-habituated swimmers completed a 1-mile lake swim in 3.9°C water. For comparative purposes, they completed an indoor 1-mile swim in 28.1°C water. The Equivital physiological monitoring system was used to record BT and RR before, during, and after each swim. Total time to complete the swims and 400-m splits were recorded.

Results:

One swimmer became hypothermic after 27 min while swimming, reaching BT of 33.7°C at swim’s end. On exiting the water the swimmers experienced large BT after-drops of –3.6°C and –2.4°C, reaching low points of 33.2°C and 31.3°C 38 and 23 min postswim, respectively. Respiratory rate and swim pace decreased over the course of the ice-mile swim for both swimmers. Swim pace for 1 swimmer declined sharply in the final 400-m lap of the ice mile when he was hypothermic. Both swimmers remained hypothermic 60 min postswim (34.2°C and 33.4°C).

Conclusion:

Ice-mile swimmers may become hypothermic while swimming, and the postswim BT after drop may expose them to dangerous levels of hypothermia. Pace and RR should be monitored as proxies for a swimmer’s physiological state. Postswim recovery should also be monitored for hypothermia for at least 1 h.

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Frank Nugent, Thomas Comyns, Alan Nevill, and Giles D. Warrington

Purpose: To assess the effects of a 7-wk low-volume, high-intensity training (HIT) intervention on performance parameters in national-level youth swimmers. Methods: Sixteen swimmers (age 15.8 [1.0] y, age at peak height velocity 12.9 [0.6] y, 100-m freestyle 61.4 [4.1] s) were randomly assigned to an HIT group or a low-intensity, high-volume training (HVT) group that acted as a control. The HIT group reduced their weekly training volume of zone 1 (low-intensity) training by 50% but increased zone 3 (high-intensity) training by 200%. The HVT group performed training as normal. Pretest to posttest measures of physiological performance (velocity at 2.5- and 4-mM blood lactate [velocity2.5mM and velocity4mM] and peak blood lactate), biomechanical performance (stroke rate, stroke length [SL], and stroke index [SI] over a 50- and 400-m freestyle), and swimming performance (50-, 200-, and 400-m freestyle) were assessed. Results: There were no significant 3-way interactions between time, group, and sex for all performance parameters (P > .05). There was a significant 2-way interaction between time and group for velocity4mM (P = .02, ηp2=.40), SL50 (P = .03, ηp2=.37), and SI50 (P = .03, ηp2=.39). Velocity4mM decreased in the HIT group but increased in the HVT group while SL50 and SI50 decreased in the HVT group. Conclusions: A 7-wk HIT intervention was neither beneficial nor detrimental to performance parameters; however, the HIT group completed 6 h (17.0 km) of swimming per week compared with 12 h (33.4 km) per week for the HVT group.

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Eimear Dolan, SarahJane Cullen, Adrian McGoldrick, and Giles D. Warrington

Purpose:

To examine the impact of making weight on aerobic work capacity and cognitive processes in a group of professional jockeys.

Methods:

Nine male jockeys and 9 age-, gender-, and BMI-matched controls were recruited to take part in two experimental trials, conducted 48 hr apart. The jockeys were asked to reduce their body mass by 4% in the 48 hr between trials, and controls maintained usual dietary and physical activity habits between trials. Aerobic work capacity was assessed by performance during an incremental cycle ergometer test. Motor response, decision making, executive function, and working memory were assessed using a computerized cognitive test battery.

Results:

The jockey group significantly reduced their body mass by 3.6 ± 0.9% (p < .01). Mean urine specific gravity (Usg) readings increased from 1.019 ± 0.004–1.028 ± 0.005 (p < .01) following this reduction in body mass. Peak work capacity was significantly reduced between trials in the jockey group (213 ± 27 vs. 186 ± 23 W, p < .01), although VO2peak (46.4 ± 3.7 vs. 47.2 ± 6.3 ml·kg·min-1) remained unchanged. No changes were identified for any cognitive variable in the jockey group between trials.

Conclusion:

Simulation of race day preparation, by allocating a weight that is 4% below baseline body mass caused all jockeys to report for repeat testing in a dehydrated state, and a reduction in aerobic work capacity, both of which may impact on racing performance.

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Lewis King, Sarah Jane Cullen, Jean McArdle, Adrian McGoldrick, Jennifer Pugh, Giles Warrington, and Ciara Losty

The purpose of this study was to explore the sources of stress reported by professional jockeys. In total, 15 jockeys participated in semistructured interviews that included apprentice, conditional, and senior jockeys. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative data that included inductive and deductive approaches. Jockeys reported a wide range of stress sources. Four core themes were identified and categorized as competitive (current form or being in a slump, pressure, horse, injury, opponents, tactical, and race day), racing industry (weight, workload, travel demands, injury concerns, suspension, and facilities), interpersonal (trainer, other jockeys, expectations of others, support networks, and communication), and career stressors (career uncertainty, career opportunities, and transitions). The findings highlight unique stressors to the jockey population, as well as stressors common with other athlete groups. Practical applied recommendations and future research directions are provided.

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Caoimhe Tiernan, Mark Lyons, Tom Comyns, Alan M. Nevill, and Giles Warrington

Purpose: Insufficient recovery can lead to a decrease in performance and increase the risk of injury and illness. The aim of this study was to evaluate salivary cortisol as a marker of recovery in elite rugby union players. Method: Over a 10-wk preseason training period, 19 male elite rugby union players provided saliva swabs biweekly (Monday and Friday mornings). Subjective markers of recovery were collected every morning of each training day. Session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) was taken after every training session, and training load was calculated (sRPE × session duration). Results: Multilevel analysis found no significant association between salivary cortisol and training load or subjective markers of recovery (all P > .05) over the training period. Compared with baseline (wk 1), Monday salivary cortisol significantly increased in wk 4 (14.94 [7.73] ng/mL; P = .04), wk 8 (16.39 [9.53] ng/mL; P = .01), and wk 9 (15.41 [9.82] ng/mL; P = .02), and Friday salivary cortisol significantly increased in wk 5 (14.81 [8.74] ng/mL; P = .04) and wk 10 (15.36 [11.30] ng/mL; P = .03). Conclusions: The significant increase in salivary cortisol on certain Mondays may indicate that players did not physically recover from the previous week of training or match at the weekend. The increased Friday cortisol levels and subjective marker of perceived fatigue indicated increased physiological stress from that week’s training. Regular monitoring of salivary cortisol combined with appropriate planning of training load may allow sufficient recovery to optimize training performance.

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Ciara Sinnott-O’Connor, Thomas M. Comyns, Alan M. Nevill, and Giles D. Warrington

Context: Stress responses in athletes can be attributed to training and competition, where increased physiological and psychological stress may negatively affect performance and recovery. Purpose: To examine the relationship between training load (TL) and salivary biomarkers immunoglobulin A (IgA), alpha-amylase (AA), and cortisol across a 16-wk preparation phase and 10-d competition phase in Paralympic swimmers. Methods: Four Paralympic swimmers provided biweekly saliva samples during 3 training phases—(1) normal training, (2) intensified training, and (3) taper—as well as daily saliva samples in the 10-d Paralympic competition (2016 Paralympic Games). TL was measured using session rating of perceived exertion. Results: Multilevel analysis identified a significant increase in salivary immunoglobulin A (sIgA: 94.98 [27.69] μg·mL−1), salivary alpha-amylase (sAA: 45.78 [19.07] μg·mL−1), and salivary cortisol (7.92 [2.17] nM) during intensified training concurrent with a 38.3% increase in TL. During the taper phase, a 49.5% decrease in TL from the intensified training phase resulted in a decrease in sIgA, sAA, and salivary cortisol; however, all 3 remained higher than baseline levels. A further significant increase was observed during competition in sIgA (168.69 [24.19] μg·mL−1), sAA (35.86 [16.67] μg·mL−1), and salivary cortisol (10.49 [1.89] nM) despite a continued decrease (77.8%) in TL from the taper phase. Conclusions: Results demonstrate that performance in major competition such as Paralympic games, despite a noticeable reduction in TL, induces a stress response in athletes. Because of the elevated stress response observed, modifications to individual postrace recovery protocols may be required to enable athletes to maximize performance across all 10 d of competition.

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SarahJane Cullen, Eimear Dolan, Kate O Brien, Adrian McGoldrick, and Giles Warrington

Balance and anaerobic performance are key attributes related to horse-racing performance, but research on the impact of making weight for racing on these parameters remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of rapid weight loss in preparation for racing on balance and anaerobic performance in a group of jockeys.

Methods:

Twelve apprentice male jockeys and 12 age- and gender-matched controls completed 2 trials separated by 48 h. In both trials, body mass, hydration status, balance, and anaerobic performance were assessed. Between the trials, the jockeys reduced body mass by 4% using weight-loss methods typically adopted in preparation for racing, while controls maintained body mass through typical daily dietary and physical activity habits.

Results:

Apprentice jockeys decreased mean body mass by 4.2% ± 0.3% (P < .001) with a subsequent increase in dehydration (P < .001). The controls maintained body mass and a euhydrated state. No differences in balance, on the left or right side, or in peak power, mean power, or fatigue index were reported between the trials in either group.

Conclusion:

Results from this study indicate that a 4% reduction in body mass in 48 h through the typical methods employed for racing, in association with an increase in dehydration, resulted in no impairments in balance or anaerobic performance. Further research is required to evaluate performance in a sport-specific setting and to investigate the specific physiological mechanisms involved.

Open access

Lewis King, SarahJane Cullen, Jean McArdle, Adrian McGoldrick, Jennifer Pugh, Giles Warrington, and Ciara Losty

A large proportion of jockeys report symptoms associated with mental health difficulties (MHDs), yet most do not seek help from professional mental health support services. Due to the paucity of literature in this field, this study sought to explore jockeys’ barriers to, and facilitators of, help-seeking for MHDs. Twelve jockeys participated in semistructured interviews, subsequently analyzed via reflexive thematic analysis. Barriers to help-seeking included the negative perceptions of others (stigma and career implications), cultural norms (masculinity and self-reliance), and low mental health literacy (not knowing where to seek help, minimization of MHDs, negative perceptions of treatment, and recognizing symptoms). Facilitators to help-seeking included education (exposure to psychological support at a younger age), social support (from professionals, jockeys, family, and friends), and media campaigns (high-profile disclosures from jockeys). Findings are consistent with barrier and facilitator studies among general and athletic populations. Applied recommendations and future research considerations are presented throughout the manuscript.