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Showing posts with label Brownlee Brothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brownlee Brothers. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How the Brownlee Brothers Made History in Rio

Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee show off their silver and gold Olympic medals in Triathlon, Rio, August 18, 2016
If there’s any sibling rivalry between the Brownlees, it wasn’t visible in Rio.

Moments before Alistair crossed the finish line to win his second consecutive Olympic gold medal, a historic first in Triathlon, he paused to look over his shoulder for his younger brother, Jonathan, just a few seconds behind. On the other side, panting on the pavement, the two held hands.

How they came to dominate the sport is, of course, a story of grit and determination. And while you’d never know it from seeing the brothers atop the podium with their gold and silver medals, it’s also a story of successive injuries rehabbed with aquatic therapy.

Brothers in Arms
The improbably named Coz Tantrum, their former swim coach and still a family friend, has had a privilege vantage point into the brothers’ unique bond.

Alistair “tends to think a little bit more outside of the box,” she observes in this interview with BBC Radio last week. “Alistair does take risks. He did prior to 2012 when he injured his ankle. He said, ‘Well, I’ve got to do something here to get back in the water, but I can’t put any weight on my ankle.’ So we trained in an Endless Pool on a treadmill.”

As she recalls, in the six months “prior to the 2012 Olympics, he’d done hardly any [dry-land] running. So when he got on the line, he knew he could swim, he knew he was going to be able to bike, but he didn’t know how his ankle was going to hold up. And as it turned out, he did the fastest 10K.”

The Endless Pool retained its rehabilitative role this time around. Alistair suffered a stress fracture to his ankle just nine months ago. As he maintained one of the leading positions on the bike, and then as he took a commanding lead over his co-frontrunner, Jonny, in the run, the injury seemed a distant memory.

The Race in Rio

The brutal course, worsened by sweltering heat and humidity, had been called the toughest in Olympic history. The waters off Copacabana beach are notorious for their choppy waves, and the bike course achieved gradients as steep as 20 percent.

The pair stayed side by side through most of the race, always near or at the front of the pack. Only in the last 2 km did Alistair break out to take a solo lead.

Alistair stands as the first triathlete, man or woman, to earn successive gold medals in the sport. He and Jonny are also the first brothers to take gold and silver together since Rome 1960.

A photo posted by Jonathan Jonny Brownlee (@jonnybrownleetri) on

A photo posted by Alistair Brownlee (@alistair.brownlee) on

Thursday, August 18, 2016

TODAY: Watch the Brownlees Defend their Olympic Titles

World Champion triathlete and Olympic medalist Jonathan Brownlee in his Endless Pool
This morning, Alistair Brownlee could become the first person to win back-to-back gold in Olympic triathlon. He and his brother, Jonathan, who took the bronze in London 2012, both acknowledge that their Endless Pool® has played a crucial role in their preparation.

Six months before the London Olympics, Alistair tore his Achilles tendon. In the low-impact environment of his Elite Endless Pool, he was able to continue running on the Underwater Treadmill. He credited the pool with giving him a “massive, massive benefit” in the crucial months before his gold-medal victory.

Training about 35 hours a week, the brothers know that injuries are unavoidable in such a demanding sport. “I got a stress fracture last year,” Jonny tells UK television presenter Charlie Webster in this video, “and I got told I wasn’t going to be able to run for 12 weeks. Thanks to the Endless Pool, I was back in seven or eight weeks.”

The brothers also use their Endless Pool for swim training and stroke refinement. As Alistair observes, “Every day when you swim, you can definitely learn technically.” Jonny adds, “If you use an Endless Pool, you get that constant technique feedback” from their pool’s underwater mirrors and video.

Last August, Alistair underwent ankle surgery. Again, he turned to his Endless Pool for training and rehabilitation. “Days or weeks when I’m injured, I actually spend as much as 10 hours just running on it.” This summer, he returned to the sport, winning World Triathlon Series races in Leeds and Stockholm.

This morning in Rio, they swim 1.5 km in the waters off Copacabana beach, bike into the hills for 40 km, and then run for 10 km along the coast. In an interview this week, Alistair claimed, “I feel like I'm in my best shape since London.”

from left, TV presenter Charlie Webster , triathlete and Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee, and in the Endless Pool, triathlete and Olympic bronze medalist Jonathan Brownlee
“Having an Endless Pool meant that when I was injured, I could still get the hours in,” reports triathlete and Olympic medalist Johnny Brownlee, seen here on his pool’s Underwater Treadmill. “You’re still getting the same long workout, but you’re not getting the same impact on the ground.” He and his brother, gold medalist Alistair (center), also use their Elite Endless Pool to refine their swim strokes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Video: The Brownlee Brothers at Home

Olympic triathletes Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee
“Swimming is a very technical sport,” observes Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee. “Of the three sports in triathlon, it’s definitely the one you can make the most gains in technically.”

To develop technical swimming skills, Alistair and his brother, Olympic bronze medalist Jonny, use their Elite Endless Pool®.

Alistair finds Endless Pools’ underwater swim mirrors particularly useful. “Everyone who swims knows that what you feel you’re doing with your hands and what you’re actually doing are two very different things,” he says wryly.

Interviewed in this video by popular UK television presenter Charlie Webster, the Brownlees also recount how they’ve used the Endless Pools Underwater Treadmill for injury rehab.

“I tore my Achilles in early 2012,” Alistair recalls “I missed probably six weeks, if not more, of running in the crucial six months before the Olympics, and I wanted to catch that up. ... The Endless Pool allowed me to do that.” And that would be his gold-medal victory!

When Jonny had a stress fracture, he reports being “told I wasn’t going to be able to run for 12 weeks. … Thanks to the Endless Pool, I was back in seven or eight weeks.”

“You’re still getting the same long workout,” he notes, “but you’re not getting the same impact on the ground.”

Monday, January 12, 2015

Triathlete Rhys Davey Gets “Keen” on Coaching

Late afternoon in Polop de la Marina, a small Valencian village, and Rhys Davey works while his friends are off cycling. Davey – along with Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, the sibling triathletes and Olympic medalists, and the Slovak triathlete Richard Varga – is spending a few weeks here to escape the English winter and train under the Mediterranean sun.

But his work these days also includes serving as Head Coach and Manager of Aquatread, a recently founded training facility in Leeds that features the Brownlees’ Elite Endless Pool®. Davey busily plans the Aquatread Grand Opening, scheduled for Thursday, January 22. The evening will include demonstration swims and runs in the Endless Pool, as well as a Q&A with the Brownlees. So while the others cycle, the 23-year-old triathlete sits in a bistro with his tablet.

“It’s our venture, something we’re keen to do,” he says of Aquatread, which offers training and coaching opportunities to their community. It’s also available to local pros and amateurs in football (“the round version,” he adds for us Yanks), rugby, and British Triathlon – “any sport where they feel hydrotherapy can be beneficial,” which is pretty much any sport.

“With the addition of the underwater treadmill, we have a fantastic rehab facility.” (And it was on the treadmill of Alistair Brownlee’s first Endless Pool that he was able to train and rehab with a torn Achilles tendon in time to earn 2012 Olympic Gold!)

Triathlete Rhys Davey competing in the Castle Triathlon, Summer 2014.
Rhys Davey, completing T1 of last summer’s Castle Triathlon. In addition to competing, he’s now coaching in the Elite Endless Pool at Aquatread, the Leeds training facility founded by Olympic medalists Alistair and Jonny Brownlee. Davey trains in the Elite himself as he prepares to take on more IRONMAN 70.3 tris in the upcoming seasons.

Davey praises the Endless Pools swim current for being “so good and so fast.” The Elite model’s adjustable current maxes out at a 0:56/100-meter pace, but “it can accommodate any type of swimmer. You can put cameras pretty much anywhere” for video stroke analysis. Davey calls it “the best of both worlds”: “You have the ability to do absolutely everything” for top-tier swimmers, and yet it also works for beginners.

Monday, September 29, 2014

WATCH: Button vs. the Brownlees at the GSK HPL

As a Formula One driver, Jenson Button has survived a 185-mph crash, fractured ribs, engine failure, wet tracks, and even hostile teammates. But how did he fare in a performance lab when pitted against a pair of Olympic triathletes eight and ten years his junior?

The 2009 F1 World Champion, Button has since established himself as an accomplished triathlete; he’s been on the IRONMAN® 70.3 podium for his age group (he’s now 34), and he hosts his own charitable triathlon. So the GlaxoSmithKline Human Performance Lab (GSK HPL) invited him in for a battery of physiological and cognitive tests that put him head-to-head against Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, the 20-something triathletes with 22 gold medals between them.

GSK HPL is a world-class research facility. For their swim testing, they chose the Endless Pool Elite®. With its industry-best current for in-place swimming, the Elite makes an ideal tool for researchers; it allows them to challenge top athletes while measuring their oxygen uptake and other vital stats with equipment that’s safely and conveniently stationary. With the Endless Pool and other state-of-the-art training and biometric technology, the GSK HPL team has dedicated themselves to exploring “six core pillars of human performance: strength, stamina, cognition, hydration, metabolism, and recovery.”

The lab’s goal is to improve real-world performance. For instance, Button and the Brownless underwent skin and core temperature tests that should ultimately “help Jenson understand where he can improve in triathlon and help the Brownlees acclimatise [it’s a UK lab] to the heat and humidity they are likely to experience in Rio 2016.”

According to the GSK HPL’s release (which includes the infographic below) the Brownlees mostly had the edge. Cycling in the heat and humidity of the lab’s Enviro Chamber, Jonny maintained a lower heart rate and a lower maximum core temperature. And while Button could swim as fast as Alistair, the senior Brownlee used fewer and more efficient strokes to achieve that speed. (We’d like to think his Endless Pool training had a little something to do with that.)

Notably though, Button “has one of the quickest and most accurate reaction times” on cognitive testing that GSK HPL ever recorded. Good thing, too: those lighting-fast reflexes could literally be a lifesaver in Formula One racing!

The official GlaxoSmithKline Human Perfomrance Lab infographic on their Jenson Button vs. Alistair and Johnny Brownlee physiological and cognitive testing
This infographic, from the GSK Human Performance Lab’s website, compares the results of tests on three elite athletes’ physiological and cognitive performance.  Button, a professional Formula One driver and amateur triathlete, excelled on cognitive testing, while professional triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee (who are eight and ten years his junior) took the lead in most physiological categories. The “swimming flume” for test #2 was actually the HPL’s Endless Pool Elite, which offers the fastest, smoothest swim current available in any swimming machine.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why Do World-Class Athletes Train in a Humble Yorkshire Shed?

UPDATE: On July 24, 2014, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee took the gold and silver medals, respectively, at the Commonwealth Games. They completed the swim with a 30-second lead over South Africa's Richard Murray, who went on to take the bronze. Alistair has previously achieved Olympic, world, and European titles in triathlon.

From the outside, it looks like a rustic two-car garage next to a cricket ground. Inside, it’s no more glamorous, but it contains one critical tool in the training arsenal that aims to put 2012 Olympic gold and bronze medalists back on the podium for 2016.

The tool is the Endless Pool, and for British triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, it’s their second. The first pool helped Alistair recover from a torn Achilles tendon in time to win gold at the London Games; his brother Jonny took bronze, and the dual victories turned the pair into national icons overnight.

Since then, their entire squad has been training in that pool, which is located in “a tiny garden you can only access by walking through our kitchen,” according to Alec Duffield, Vice President of Brownlee Brothers Ltd. A childhood friend of the Brownlees, he’s also their housemate, and he saw firsthand that the garden pool situation was getting out of hand.

One other concern: the first pool was purchased specifically for the underwater treadmill, so the Brownlees chose a model with a swim current that – though challenging for most of us – could be easily overtaken by Olympians in their prime. So with pool #2, they upgraded to the Elite model, with Endless Pools’ fastest current; it tops out at a 0:56/100-metre pace (or 0:51/100 yards on this side of the pond).

The Elite “made a big difference in terms of usefulness,” Duffield observes. Like their first pool, their Elite also has an integrated treadmill, but now it features a swim current that’s “too fast for even Alistair.” Duffield sees “limitless” potential to allow them to build endurance and “improve the finer points of their stroke.”

Despite the no-frills installation, this Elite Endless Pool helps Olympic medalists Alistair and Johnny Brownlee train and rehab.
There’s barely room to move outside the pool, but dip in and the training ground is Endless. For Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee, 26, and his world-champion brother Jonny, 24, this Elite Endless Pool delivers convenient and critical opportunities to swim and run in place. When they’re not training in it, a host of other professional teams and swimmers will make the pilgrimage for an in-place swim.
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