Blacked-out goggles, ice baths as outdoor pool poses challenge

The Gold Coast's outdoor pool poses unique challenges.

Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – Some swimmers have taped over their goggles and others will be hitting ice baths as they grapple with the challenges of an outdoor pool at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Leading backstrokers Kylie Masse and 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.

Canada’s world record holder Masse has been training outdoors in preparation, while Australia’s triple 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.

“I’ve practised a bit outside, we’ve been down in Florida and Arizona for training camps a bit this year because we knew the Games were here and they’d be outside.

“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 picturesque 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 said.

“We saw it at trials and we have the advantage that we have done it before and we just have to try our best.

“I’m not going to go into my race with taped-up goggles, I’m just going in to do my best job.”

Seebohm is bidding for her third consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal in the 100m event, after winning in Delhi and Glasgow.

Masse broke an eight-year world record with 58.10 seconds in winning the world title in Budapest last year.

– Sun strokes –

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

Pale-skinned Horton is looking to cool his body temperature after he overheated during the 1,500m freestyle at last month’s national selection trials in the Games pool.

“It’s just about managing my body temperature, trying to stay cool before I race and cooling down faster after heats,” Horton said.

“The air-con in the village is helping. I’ve turned it down. I think we will have ice baths at the pool and we’ve got some in the basement of the village as well so when we get back we can cool down.”

Horton has a big programme at the Games, combining the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle relay.