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Olympic swimmers trained at Portsmouth

L-R: Dr Heather Massey, British Swimming Coach David Hemmings, Team GB swimmer Jack Burnell with Dr Mitch Lomax and Geoff Long from the University.

L-R: Dr Heather Massey, British Swimming Coach David Hemmings, Team GB swimmer Jack Burnell with Dr Mitch Lomax and Geoff Long from the University.

Two Team GB Olympic marathon swimmers competing in Rio this week trained at the University of Portsmouth.

Keri-anne Payne and Jack Burnell spent time at the Extreme Environments laboratory in May to prepare them for their 10 kilometre races in open water.

The two athletes worked with world-leading expert on extreme environments Professor Mike Tipton and his team.

The swimmers were immersed in cold water at a temperature of 18C, which was the predicted worse-case scenario for the water temperature in Rio. They also swam in the swimming flume – one of the largest in the country – to aid their training and prepare them for the conditions they’d face swimming along the Copacabana Beach.

Dr Heather Massey from the Department of Sport and Exercise Science said: “The water is quite cool in Rio at the moment, just a little warmer than the sea temperature in the UK. When the swimmers were here in Portsmouth there was uncertainty about the water temperatures because of the El-Nino weather patterns, which can change conditions around the South American continent.

L-R: Team GB Physio Fiona Mather, Dr Heather Massey, Team GB swimmer Keri-Anne Payne with Dr Mitch Lomax and Geoff Long from the University.

L-R: Team GB Physio Fiona Mather, Dr Heather Massey, Team GB swimmer Keri-Anne Payne with Dr Mitch Lomax and Geoff Long from the University.

“The athletes were repeatedly immersed wearing just swimsuits to get their bodies used to the initial responses that occur when entering cold water, and to find out how their bodies coped with swimming in cool water for a long period of time.

“It’s not uncommon for long distance swimmers to be withdrawn from races because they become too cold to swim. We helped them with the tactics they should adopt in order to complete the race.”

Jack Burnell, who was fifth at the 2015 World Championships, will make his Olympic debut today in the men’s event.

It is the third Olympic Games for Keri-anne Payne, who won silver in the open water marathon swim at Beijing 2008 – where she also competed in the pool.

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