Teams lose sleep over Rio night races

Mon Aug 10, 2015 2:10am EDT
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By Rod Gilmour

KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - As soon as the world championships concluded on Sunday, swimming’s top nations were setting their sights on an all together different proposition -- how to deal with midnight finishes during the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Next year’s Games schedule means some swimming finals take place at night, the result of broadcasters such as NBC seeking a peak audience in the United States.

In Kazan, the world championship finals normally finished at around 1930 local time, but Rio finals are slated for a 2200 start.

With media commitments, warm down, drug testing and the transport home, athletes in Rio de Janeiro will not be in bed until the early hours of the morning.

Of the top nations Reuters spoke to in Kazan, only Swimming Australia, who had originally opposed the decision, had seemingly cemented a plan to deal with late evening finals.

They will hold a week-long, pre-Rio training camp later this year, with a two-day Grand Prix meet in between.

The idea is to replicate what the athletes will experience in Rio. The swim meet will finish at midnight both days, a Swimming Australia spokesman said, with athletes going through recovery, media and drug testing procedures as they would in Brazil.

"As athletes and staff, we have to familiarize ourselves with what it means for us all to stay in those time frames," Jacco Verhaeren, Swimming Australia's head coach, told Reuters.   Continued...