Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 64 - Katie McGibbon - SWIM FASTER WITH SCIENCE

In my third year of uni, so I studied at the University of Bath and they offer a placement year. And I was super lucky to get placement in Tasmania in Australia. Which to be honest, I didn’t even know where it was.

“In my third year of uni, so I studied at the University of Bath and they offer a placement year. And I was super lucky to get placement in Tasmania in Australia. Which to be honest, I didn’t even know where it was. I knew it was new at this side of the world, but I didn’t even know it was like a little island off the south of Australia.

And yeah, so I took that placement and I did a year of work experience there at the Institute of Sport. And I just fell in love with Australia and I went back to finish my studies, did my Masters, got some jobs in swimming there.

And then, so I was working in Wales as a Performance Scientist at the time and this Ph.D. got advertised in Brisbane and it looks pretty cool. It was applied so it was I guess, not based at university, more based, like in the applied world at the QAS working with athletes and doing your Ph.D. alongside that. So, I was like that’s perfect because, at the time I was working as a performance scientist with the elite Welsh swimmers.”

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JESSE: Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today, her Ph.D. is specializing in pacing and swimming. She’s a Performance Scientist in Swimming Physiology at the Queensland Academy of Sport, and also an amateur triathlete, so I’m sure we’re gonna get along just well. Welcome to the show, Katie McGibbon.

KATIE: Thanks, Jesse. Thanks for having me.

JESSE: Thanks for working out the time difference for me. I always love doing these cross-world times because it’s basically dinnertime for me, and you’re just getting up to starting the day. So, I always appreciate it when we can figure out how to make that work.

KATIE: Yeah, definitely. It’s always a tricky thing, like trying to talk to people back home as well figuring out what time is back there. And yeah, it’s tricky.

JESSE: I think I read– Are you from the UK?

KATIE: Yeah.

JESSE: Yeah. So, how do you– Anytime somebody basically shifts continents, and because of the people I talk to, it happens more frequently, I think in the people I talk to than the general population. I’m always curious how you make the jump, why you make the jump from growing up in one place to moving basically across the planet?

KATIE: Yeah. So, [??? 02:54] in my third year of uni, so I studied at the University of Bath and they offer a placement year. And I was super lucky to get placement in Tasmania in Australia. Which to be honest, I didn’t even know where it was. I knew it was new at this side of the world, but I didn’t even know it was like a little island off the south of Australia.

And yeah, so I took that placement and I did a year of work experience there at the Institute of Sport. And I just fell in love with Australia and I went back to finish my studies, did my Masters, got some jobs in swimming there. And then, so I was working in Wales as a Performance Scientist at the time and this Ph.D. got advertised in Brisbane and it looks pretty cool.

It was applied so it was I guess, not based at university, more based, like in the applied world at the QAS working with athletes and doing your Ph.D. alongside that. So, I was like that’s perfect because, at the time I was working as a performance scientist with the elite Welsh swimmers. And so I didn’t want to just go and do the academic stuff, but I kind of knew I kind of wanted to do a Ph.D. but I wasn’t super set on it. The opportunity came up and I think it was just before the Rio Olympics when I applied for it.

And yeah, I put in an application. I thought, oh, who knows? Like I’m not really too fussed either way. And then it took about three months to hear back from them. And I thought, oh, they must not have got it because it’d been ages.

And then I got this random email pop up, being like, oh, we’d like to give you an interview for this Ph.D. And it was because Rio was happening, everyone was obviously super busy, and they didn’t get around to it. And yeah, I was lucky enough to get offered it and I thought I can either stay here in my job with Wales, which I really enjoyed. It’s not like I wanted to leave that job. Or I can take up this opportunity and go live in Brisbane, which I’d never even been to Brisbane before.

I just knew I loved Australia. And I thought, why not? So, I just took the opportunity and just moved over. I think it was January 2017. And yeah, I’ve stayed here ever since. So, it’s been a good move for me. But yeah, I do miss home sometimes, but I think the lifestyle over here is just much better. And that’s purely because of the weather.

JESSE: See, and I’ve not been to Australia yet, but I know from a lady, a former pro triathlete that she used to do a little circuit, basically, in the North American winter, she’d go to Australia and race the short stuff, and then do the traditional triathlete or triathlon season over North American Summer. And she talks about how it’s, I don’t know quite called Mecca.

But I mean close to that, in that there’s such a supportive environment for triathlon and swimming in particular. She came from a swimming background. So, I would think, given what you do that if it’s not the best place, it’s certainly probably one of the best places for you to be to do what you do, right?

KATIE: Yeah, I mean, sport is just a massive part of the culture here like everyone loves it, and especially swimming like people grew up swimming here I guess because everyone lives by the ocean they have sort of learned to swim for safety more than anything. And so you have to be able to swim and you have to be able to swim in the sea. And the kids just growing up here they do like surf lifesaving and it’s just, yeah, it’s so different to home and obviously, because at home you know, people don’t really go to the beach, it’s too cold.

So, yeah, it’s just so different here. And triathlon is massive here and I’d never done a triathlon before I moved over here. And I just thought it was just the perfect opportunity because the weather is prime for it. And yes, like I said, it’s just such a big part of the culture. Everyone just gets behind it and the atmosphere of the events is just awesome. I love it.

JESSE: Yeah. So, did you grow up swimming? Is that how you ended up studying it? Or how was the avenue into that?

KATIE: Yeah, it was a bit of a random thing to be honest. I never grew up swimming. But I learned to swim but like after, I don’t know how it was maybe 10, 11, 12 when you like go through learning to swim. I didn’t swim after that. I always enjoyed it but yeah, definitely never competitively. Then when I finished my Master’s, I was applying for loads of Sport Science jobs.

And the first one I managed to get was one in swimming up in Scotland. So, I moved up there and just kind of fell in love with the sport, I guess. And it’s perfect for physiologists because it’s very physiology based. And so yeah, and then since then I’ve just kind of stuck with it. But yeah, definitely not from assuming background. So, I certainly struggled when I first started in the job, like understanding the terminology and like the mindset of the coaches and the swimmers because it’s not a background that– it’s not a sport I grew up doing.

So, I think it was good and bad in that I had to learn the sport from fresh, which I think is fine, you can do as a physiologist, starting a new job. But I also bought in, I didn’t have any preconceptions about what swimming was or what it was meant to be like, because I had no idea. So, kind of, I guess brought a different perspective and sort of asked questions that people that who probably know about swimming wouldn’t ask which can be good.

It can be thought-provoking for the coaches sometimes. Because they’re like “Oh, I’d never thought of it like that.” So, yeah, it definitely has its pros and cons. But yeah, I just fell in love with it. And now six and a half years later, I’m still working in swimming.

JESSE: Yeah, I could definitely see like that outsider’s perspective where I think about things from a running standpoint, which is not very useful in the water. But there is a certain culture when you grow up, at least in the US, there’s club for swim and a whole culture around that, a certain way you think about things, certain things you do, mantras that get drilled into kids, and it’s like, you have the opportunity to ask questions, maybe they’re not thinking about because they’re so focused on this is just how it’s done.

You know, that old, we’ve always done it this way, so we’ll just continue doing it this way. And then you go, “Well, why?”

KATIE: Definitely. That’s why it’s– [crosstalk] Yeah, it’s super interesting. Like the coach is just it is the way it is because it’s tradition, a lot of the time in swimming I find, and I guess it’s the same in other sports. Yes, this is the way it’s been done like you say.

And so, yeah, it’s interesting. Like I’d come from a team sport background, I grew up playing basketball, which is obviously very different to swimming. So, yeah, it was interesting like conversion I suppose for me. But I guess you learn the sport pretty quickly, when you’re in it every day, and you just ask questions and yeah.

JESSE: Yeah. I love how you kind of just fell into it. When I spoke with, he’s a professor I think exercise physiology at UC Davis, Dr. Keith Barr. This was back in Episode 31, 32, somewhere around there. He made the remark that a lot of people come to exercise physiology and the kind of the surrounding disciplines because they want to know why they weren’t a good enough, whatever kind of athlete.

Whereas like you just kind of fell into it. So, it’s just interesting how people end up where they are. So, it’s kind of neat that you’re doing that instead of just being like, I love basketball so like let’s focus on basketball. I guess maybe why didn’t you go and try to do more stuff with basketball?

KATIE: Yeah. I guess when you’re applying for jobs, right, you come out of a Master’s degree and you know, there’s not a job waiting for you. So, there’s so many graduates say in the UK for example with an exercise physiology masters. So, I was lucky in that I had a lot of like applied experience that I’d gotten along the way. But you kind of– you don’t get to choose what sport you work in.

You have to apply for whatever jobs are available and you take basically what you get. So, I was open. I think you’ve got to be open to working in any sport. And you can apply your knowledge, your Sport Science knowledge, physiology knowledge to any sport in just a different way. And so yeah, it would have been cool to work in basketball, but I honestly would have taken any sport.

And along the way, it just so happens that I like swimming and I stayed in swimming. But I know a lot of people that have stayed in one sport, and then they just moved to another sport and then moved to another sport.

And so yeah, it’s a good challenge to be able to apply your skills to different sports. And when I started in Scotland, I was also working in judo, not just swimming. And that was another really interesting one because I had no idea about Judo at all. Never been involved in any sort of combat sports like that.

So, that was very new to me. [??? 11:30] with all the moves, the names of the moves were in Japanese and trying to learn how to do that. And I ended up doing the performance analysis for the judo team in Scotland and I was the only person doing it and I’d [??? 11:41] light into judo. And so it was a pretty quick learning curve, but I think it’s a good challenge to like, yeah, be involved in other sports.

JESSE: Yeah. So, you’re saying your Ph.D. is more applied than it is academic. I assume you’re still having to do some kind of like research project as part of the degree, right?

KATIE: Yeah. So, for the Ph.D., I think I ended up with five different studies in my thesis. And yeah, so there, I mean, they’ve got to tick academic boxes, right? So, you’ve got to write, write, write, and publish papers. But I guess the nature of those papers have been quite applied compared to, you know, we don’t do lab testing for swimming purely because we just can’t.

So, it tends to be, it’s more out in the field, it’s at the pool. So, you have to be able to do stuff that you can actually do in the real world, by the nature of the fact you have to do at the pool and you’re not in a laboratory where everything’s controlled. You can’t control the conditions in a pool, especially when it comes to pacing, like how do you control pacing in the pool, because it’s challenging.

Whereas in the lab, you can set the treadmill to a certain pace, you can set the bike to a certain wattage, whereas you can’t do that in swimming. So, I think by the nature of most people that do research in swimming, it kind of ends up being quite applied. But I always say it wasn’t a super sciency Ph.D. or science-heavy. And that it was obviously based on science but we didn’t take lots of like really complex physiological measures or anything like that.

We kept it pretty simple because we wanted the findings to be applicable to coaches that coaches can actually use the information we’re giving them day to day in their coaching environment. So, is much more like an applied coaching type thing rather than yeah, I guess academic. But I mean, it obviously has to hit the academic things to pass for a Ph.D.

JESSE: Right. So, I mean, are you trying to control any kind of variables like I don’t even know, you know, water temperature, humidity in the air? I’m assuming you’re– some of this like, I guess I don’t know. Are you indoor, outdoor with the pool? If you’re indoor, are you trying to control for humidity, air temperature, salinity of the pool, any of that kind of stuff? Or is it just like, hey, let’s look and see like what they’re doing.

KATIE: Yeah, to be honest, so the two studies I actually did in the pool, one was an indoor pool, one was in an outdoor pool. They were looking at slightly different things. But so for example, the indoor pool, we did the test in the same indoor pool each time. So, the conditions are kept pretty similar, like the pool maintain the water temperature, a certain temperature.

But to be honest, we didn’t really look at any of that. We weren’t too bothered because the conditions are fairly stable, like in an indoor pool. The outdoor pool, a bit more tricky. We did study down the Gold Coast, and it was winter here. So, it was pretty cold. And so yeah, there’s only a certain amount of things you can control. And that was– it was very much like a training session study. So, we gave them a training session to do and we monitored how they went.

So, yeah, we couldn’t really control for much of that stuff. And you’re limited by things also like pool space. And so when you’re doing a study, you’re not the only people in the pool. They’re other people in the squad are also in the pool so you can’t just do what you want to do. So, if for example, we wanted to cover the pace clocks so they couldn’t see the pace clocks.

But if we did that everyone else training in the pool couldn’t see the pace clocks. So, we were limited, we couldn’t do that. So, we had to just tell them not to look at it. So, you know, we’re relying on their honesty that they didn’t look at it. So, yeah, it’s very, it’s not I suppose compared to a lot of scientific studies super controlled, but it’s the best we could, we try to do you know, doing sessions on the same day, the same time every week and that sort of thing. But yeah, it’s tricky consuming for sure.

JESSE: So, if you can imagine– So, let’s pretend you have an unlimited amount of money. Is it possible to devise any kind of setup where you’d be able to take more like lab-specific measurements of swimmers? If you could build anything, is it possible to make that kind of setup?

KATIE: Yeah, definitely. And we do have, so say the QAS has a testing pool, a 25-minute testing pool, where you know, we do our underwater camera filming and our [??? 16:08] and stuff like that. And the AIS has a pool similar. So, in an ideal world, I’d have a 50-meter indoor pool with underwater pacing lights actually built into the pool so they’re actually not touching water. So, obviously, now [??? 16:27] build the pools that already built, you can’t just, well, you’d have to take all the water out. You’d have to then build the pacing lights in, like it would just be a nightmare.

But yeah, if we were starting from fresh, that would be one thing I would definitely do. Because it’s hard to, you’re trying to control pace or what speed they’re swimming at. And it obviously, in swimming, it’s very subjective and you don’t know if they’re– they don’t know if they’re going the right pace until they come in and the coach goes, “Oh, that was a 105.” And they go, “Oh, I was wanting to be going 110” or whatever it was. And then when you’re doing kind of research, you need to be able to control the pace, that’s where things like the underwater lights would be perfect.

And then yeah, things like the [??? 17:05] and all those like fixed underwater cameras. So, the AIS, for example, has cameras that are fixed underwater. And they will calibrate so you don’t have to actually, every time you use them, you don’t have to put them in and calibrate them because they’re already there.

So, that kind of stuff where you have fixed cameras, fixed underwater pacing lights would be perfect. And there are places that have bits of that, but there’s not I guess one place in Australia that I know of that has probably everything that we’d want. But we’ve got a pretty good set up with the AIS and QAS here compared to I know, a lot of people don’t have access to that sort of stuff. So, we’re pretty lucky here.

JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s like, pools can be expensive to maintain. So, if you don’t have a very specific purpose or a large source of funding, then like, you’re definitely not going to get all the nice gadgets that go along with everything. And as you said, once the thing’s built, then it becomes kind of cost-prohibitive to go back and try to re-engineer it over again over time to insert whatever kind of gadgetry you want into it. So, tell me a little bit about specifically what you’re working on with some of those research projects.

KATIE: Yeah. So, I guess we’re talking about pacing lights so I’ll start with that one. We use, so there’s a few systems now that do under what pacing lights, probably seen them on Twitter and there’s a few different companies. But we wanted to see, because a lot of studies use pacing lights to control pacing in swimming, but we don’t know there’s not often a report how accurately they’re able to follow the lights.

So, we did a really simple study comparing pacing lights to a metronome, so the Tempo Trainer and self-pacing to see. So, we gave them target times and it was just like aerobic paces. We did one session, it was aerobic paces and then the next session we did a bit more high speed. It was like just a bit slower than race pace, 200 race pace for them to see which they could pace most accurately to their target time with. So, that was pretty cool. And the pacing lights were definitely, pacing was most accurate with those.

Self-pacing especially at the slow pace of some of them were way off [??? 19:19] way too fast. And I guess coaches would see that all the time that they go much faster than they need to go. Which, you know, can affect their performance in the next session, if they’ve actually swam like, say, a session that shouldn’t be an aerobic threshold and the next session, they’re doing speed.

Well, they’re not going to do very well if they’ve done the whole previous session, especially when it’s not meant to be. So, that was kind of the theory behind that. But we did have issues with our underwater pacing lights, just because of the, you know, when you put anything electrical into water, it’s tricky.

So, the study following on from that, the idea was initially to use the lights to see if we could do some sort of training intervention with the lights. So, if we could train them with and then gradually, take them away and see if their pacing actually got better with them. But because we kind of had issues with them, we did a similar thing. We did a training intervention and we got them to do an aerobic session pacing efforts different ways. So, like looking for even splits, negative splits. I got them to do it repeatedly over five weeks to see if they got better at it. Which we were very limited by the time in the season, we were trying to recruit squads for that.

So, we ended up getting one squad to do it, but it was like, probably two months before World Championship Trials here. So, we didn’t, we couldn’t really change their training that much. Because they were all prepping towards that. So, we had them for like one session a week, where we could do something with them, which you know, really isn’t enough to see a change. You really need two or three sessions a week for 5, 6, 7, 8 weeks rather than one session a week for five weeks.

So, we didn’t find too much in that. But I guess it was a kind of an initial pilot study to see If there was something in it, and I think there definitely is, but I’d like to repeat that again with a bit more, with a score where we can actually influence what they’re doing a bit more in more sessions.

And then I guess the studies before that, I often did a lot of research around using split some competitions, and looking at how people actually pace in competitions. There’s a lot of research out there saying what pacing profile swimmers typically display in a competition. So, if we [??? 21:30] freestyle, we know what kind of shape profile that we see. But there’s not much specifics around that. Like it’s useful to know what kind of shape profile we see, but it’s not that useful to coaches because it’s kind of obvious.

So, I wanted to delve into it a bit more and that’s where we started using like a percentage of race time spent on each lap to give coaches I guess more specific advice around like, especially related to the start lap in 200 freestyle, the first 50, how quick should they be going out? Because we found if they went out too quick, their performance was much worse as a result, which kind of makes sense. You go out too quick, you use up too much energy early on, you struggle on the back end of the race, which coaches would probably know, inherently, but we had really strong data to support that.

So, we could then give coaches really specific like percentages, so you could work out well, this is the time I want my swimmer to go overall, this is the time he should probably be going around on the first lap. If he goes too much quicker than that, he’s gonna probably struggle. So, yeah, that was that one. And we kind of compared individual events to relays which hasn’t really been done before. So, my thought was that swimmers, and we see it a lot, I think, with Australian swimmers in competition, but also swimmers from other countries where they paced differently in their, say, individual 200 freestyle.

And then when they get to the relay four by 200, they paced it completely differently. And you’re just like why is that? And we haven’t quite figured out why yet, but my theory was that you know, obviously, in a relay, you’re part of a team, there’s a lot more pressure to perform. You’re trying to do well for your team.

So, you sort of chase the people next to you a bit more. Especially if you’re, say in the fourth leg and you’re stood on the block waiting, you can see exactly where your team is positioned.

So, say you can see your team are pretty close to first place, but they’re maybe a second behind, when you dive in, they go super hard early on to try and catch up with that person rather than just actually swimming their own race, which means often they end up swimming an actual slower time overall, rather than if they’d stuck to their normal race plan in an individual event, and just didn’t get too excited by trying to chase down you know, Michael Fox or whoever in the lane next to them, then they probably potentially would have swum quicker. So, that was an interesting finding in that one.

And then I guess the other studies I did like a coach interview and questionnaires with coaches and swimmers just to find out I guess what they knew about pacing because we’re trying to like educate coaches and give coaches information about pacing. I think it’s important for us to know what they actually already know. Because there’s no point telling them what they already know. And just find out how much they, yeah, how much they do know and how they program their training in relation to I guess, teaching swimmers how to pace, because there’s not much research on how you actually develop pacing skills in many sports, especially not swimming.

So, how do they actually go about that? What do they do in training? And how do they prescribe training sets and progress them throughout the season in their periodization to get those, I guess, progressions that they want to see. So, when it comes time to race that, that someone can actually nail their 200 say, freestyle race plan in terms of hitting those splits that they want to hit? Yes. So, that’s pretty much all the studies I did in the Ph.D.

JESSE: So, you’re talking about like the pacing shape or pacing profile. Just to clarify, you’re just basically talking about like, so I don’t know, a race. But say we wanted to go a minute, whatever, the finish time is a minute and it’s a 50, which obviously is not terribly quick. But anyway, so we wanna go down and back in a 25-meter pool. So, we have 30 seconds splits.

So, the shape or the profile of the pacing would be like, the first half is 25 seconds, and the second half is 35. So, if you graphed it, then you could see that like, faster than the median time and then higher than the median time. Is that what you’re talking about?

KATIE: Yeah, pretty much. So, I tend to use like a percentage of race time. So, say they go a minute, and you’re looking at 25 seconds, 35 seconds, I worked out as a percentage. Obviously, the first half there is much quicker than the second half. So, the slope of the line would sort of go up. So, the first half, lower percentage– [crosstalk]

JESSE: So it’s like 40%, 60% that…

KATIE: Yeah.

JESSE: Yeah, okay. I’m just trying to figure out like how you’re representing that visually. Because obviously, you could take that data and put it together in different ways. And then you’re talking about, don’t go out too hard because you’re gonna die off at the end of the race. And to me, that’s like, “Well, duh.” I mean, it’s a pretty intuitive, I guess, if you’ve been around I’ll say endurance sports for any period of time, it’s a mantra that everybody will say over and over and over again.

Like do not go out too hard, for various reasons, but it pretty much never works. So, it’s almost surprising to me that, especially because you’re working with pretty high-level athletes, that like a coach wouldn’t be like clicking off splits at some point, like dial that first 50 back or dial that first 25 back, and let’s just see what happens.

So, I kind of wonder how intuitive do– which this isn’t really a data question, I guess. But how intuitive do you feel that those high-level swimmers are with their pacing? So, if you just say like you said that times at the lower end, the aerobic end could end up being faster, obviously, because it’s easier, you don’t have to work as hard. But could you say, hey, I want you to go swim, this split that’s well within their physical capability? And you know, how many people would be like, right on the dot versus way off? That’s what I mean, in terms of like, intuitiveness with that pacing.

KATIE: Yeah, that’s a good question. And you find a big range to be honest. Obviously, the elite guys tend to be pretty good at it compared to the younger guys can be way off the mark. So, a lot of the swimmers I work with, if you go, I want you to go this split for 50 right now, most of them can do it pretty close. But I guess when you’re talking about, I always use a 200 freestyles example, just because that’s where I’ve done a lot of research.

But in that first lap, you’re talking very small differences can have a big physiological impact. So, say their race plan is for them to go out in 26 2 for the first 50, and they go out in 25 8, it’s only .4 seconds. You’d be like, oh, that’s pretty accurate compared to what they were a min ago. But that point four of a second can have a pretty big impact in terms of the energy expenditure required to go that extra point four quicker. And then it comes back to I guess, what they’ve trained for.

So, if in training, they’ve been training, and they’re going 26 2, 26 2 or 26 3, 26 4, and then all of a sudden at a race, they’re going 25 8, their body is not prepared necessarily to cope with the consequences of that. And the other really interesting thing about racing compared to training is that the taper has a big impact. And it’s something I guess we don’t know heaps about in swimming in terms of what effect the taper has on pacing.

But we see it, I mean, I’ve seen it a lot anecdotally that when they’re tapered, obviously, they feel awesome. They feel super fresh, and they’re raring to go. So, they go in that first step much quicker than they should because they feel good. It feels easier, right? So, pacing is a lot about perception of effort.

So, in training, a 26 2 might feel like a seven out of 10 when you’re in full load. You go into taper and that 26 2 feels like a five out of 10 or a six out of 10. So, you end up going like a 25-6 or something crazy because you feel good, but you haven’t trained for that, your body isn’t able to cope with that. So, then later on in the race, you really suffer.

So, yeah, it can be quite small differences and it’s hard to, I guess, pace super-accurate. It’s always going to be a range, if you want to go 26 2 you can have to have a range, probably 26 1, 26 3. But yeah, I think in racing, the taper really plays a big impact on that.

And obviously, the psychological impact of being in a race. If someone else in the lane next to you is going out fast, faster than you and you can see their feet, or their hips or whatever, you instinctively probably want to catch up with them. And you don’t want to let them slip away. Whereas actually some swimmers and it depends on your physiology as well. If you’re a more aerobic or anaerobic dominant swimmer, it’s going to impact you differently.

But if you try and chase that person, and don’t stick to your race plan, that can really hinder your performance as well. Because if you actually just stick to your race plan, which is obviously designed around your physiology to give you the best chance to swim your best race, although that guy’s gone out super quick, he might just die off in the last 50 and you then might swim over him.

So, it’s a case of also being confident in your race plan, and confident that you can execute it and it’s going to get you the quickest time and not worrying about what other people are doing. Because you know there are certain swimmers, you know, if you’re in the lane next to a certain swimmer that they’re going to go out hard, they’re going to take the race out. You’ve got to be confident if that’s not your race plan to stick to your plan and just go out a bit more conservatively.

And we’re not saying go out slow, like it’s, you’re not going to be two, three seconds behind, you’re talking maybe half a second behind them more, or whatever it might be, just to keep in touch with them. And then in that last 50, you’ve got the extra energy to actually swim over the top of them, but they haven’t got that extra energy. So, yeah, it’s a bit of a balance.

But overall, most of the top guys are pretty good at pacing, especially like the distance swimmers, you can tell them to go 60 points, 60 points, 60 point for hundreds, and they will just nail it every single time. Whereas you get junior swimmers, and they’ll be all over the place. And that’s just a learning thing. Right? It comes with experience.

JESSE: Yeah. As you’re talking about, like a ghost of coaches past like all the things I’ve heard over the last 20 years of competitive racing, about don’t go out hard, do your own race, like all these things, you really have to like, drill in your head. So, then as you’re talking, I’m thinking to myself, well, what’s the difference? It can’t be that running has this magical culture that swimming doesn’t have.

There’s so much crossover in terms of athletes that do both, especially at junior or high school level. And I think the biggest thing is, at least from what I can guess is, there’s no way to verify in the middle of a race that you are or aren’t on your race plan.

Whereas if I’m doing a 5K, I know I can check my watch or a coach can be there and say, hey, you’re right on, hey, you’re a little fast, like cool it, whatever it is, and give that feedback. And that also plays into experience, right? Because you get that immediate feedback, but also that feedback for the long term when you’re doing another race and you can think about, well, how does this feel compared to that one?

Versus the swimmers, they don’t really– Like, the race is over, then they can get their splits. But it’s not the same kind of feedback as that immediate punch in the chest, I went out too hard. I hear my coach going like slow down. So, that’s gotta be the difference at least that I could think of is that they don’t have that immediate feedback to adjust the game plan at game time.

KATIE: Yeah. No, I definitely agree 100% and in training like as a triathlete running a cycling, you’re constantly looking at your watch, should be like, what pace am I going? Am I going too fast or my own pace? And it’s exactly like what you said the swimmers don’t have that reference. They’re basically going off feel, that’s all they’re going off.

And also things like stroke rate, they know roughly for certain stroke rate, they’re going to be hitting about this time, but that changes daily as well with fatigue, how fatigued they are. They could be feeling good one day and a 60 point could feel much harder one day than the next.

So, going off feel is limited as well in that you don’t have, yeah, that feedback in terms of time until you finish and then the coach goes, oh, you’ve gone way too slow or way too fast. And they’re like, oh, cool. Well, can’t change it now.

But you can change it for the next rep, but it’s kind of too late, that first rep is lost. And exactly the same in a race like you can hear your coach shouting on the sideline. And sometimes the coaches will try and do this to sort of speed you up, but they’re pretty much always doing that. Because they want you to go faster, right. So, you can’t really tell whether you’re on pace or not.

So, yeah, it’s very much a feel-based thing and you get to the end and you hope you’ve got a good time. And often like in one of my studies, we asked swimmers at the end of each rep to guess what time they went and some of their guesses are just way off. And this is aerobic paces. So, it’s not race pace, which is obviously more difficult as a bigger range.

But yeah, they could be absolutely miles of what time they think they went [??? 35:10] 10 plus seconds for aerobic paces. And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” You know, that can have a big impact in training in terms of what zone they’re training in.

But then obviously, racing has a massive impact. And I know in training, some of the swimmers, they try to look at a pace clock as they breathe, they’ll like look at the clock on the wall, which is, I guess, an indicator. If you’re doing longer efforts that can be useful, you can still see roughly where you’re at. But racing, there’s none of that feedback. And that’s where things like the underwater pacing lights are super useful. And I think that’s why the pacing was so accurate with them because they have that immediate feedback.

So, the light is moving up the pool, they’re keeping their head in line with the light, they can see exactly where they are, whether they’re on pace or not. And if they’re sat behind the light, they know they need to speed up a bit. If they’re going too fast, they slow down.

So, yeah, that immediate feedback is really difficult to get in swimming and that’s where yeah, if we can get a system of underwater lights that works reliably in the pool that will have a really big impact in training and obviously, you can’t use them in racing. But if you can train them to feel that perception of effort better. It’s also quite difficult in swimming because the feel of the water changes daily also based on your techniques.

So, if your techniques are a bit off, your feel for the water isn’t quite the same. And so there’s so many different factors whereas yeah, running like the air, I know the air density and things can change if your altitude and temperature also changes. But yeah, that kind of technique isn’t such a huge part. Whereas swimming, obviously technique is massive. So, there’s so many variables that can change on a daily basis I think.

JESSE: That’s what I was thinking about like my own experience between the two. And not that I’m a great swimmer. I’m a decent or an amateur triathlete, which isn’t saying much as far as swimming goes. But it’s like, historically, I’m a very good pacer running. Like when I was just running, you could give me a time and I’ll be within a 10th of a second of it.

We’re talking quarters to miles, whatever it is. So, very accurate. And you know, you can feel those little differences so much easier. And I feel like so it’s like, I say that just to have a basis of, okay, I have the ability to pace, but then I get in the pool, and especially as you’re going harder, it’s like those tenths of a second at the top end your scale, they, I refer to it as gears like I’m always on a bike like we’re clicking up gears.

As you’re trying to go one second faster, it feels like here’s five gears, not one gear just for 100, it’s not– So, that rate of perceived exertion is that right? get stretched out so far. And then as you mentioned, like your technique is different like I have heavy legs and poor lower abs, so they like to sink down. So, if I’m having a good day and I’m engaging my abs like I’m supposed to and I get my legs up, then my RPE may be lower, but then I can be going faster because I’ve got my legs out of the way and more hydrodynamic.

So, all those variables, and do you know, is it– In the water when you’re going faster, is it logarithmically harder like an exponential curve, basically, as you’re trying to put more effort in? It’s not linear effort to speed like it gets noticeably harder.

KATIE: Yeah, so there’s actually, so on land, it’s a linear relationship. But in the pool, it’s a cubic relationship between force and velocity. Yeah. So, as soon as you increase speed, even just a small amount, the energy expenditure required to increase that speed is much higher than guess the increase in speed itself. So, you’re having to put in a lot more energy to create a small change in speed.

And that’s a lot to do with fluid dynamics and the drag, you have to overcome the drag. So, it requires a lot more energy. And that’s where we’re talking about the small differences on the first lap even .3, .4, .5 per second, can have a massive impact.

JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. I think about that, though, I think the place that we encounter that on land is with cycling. When you get going 23, 24, 25 miles an hour. And then it’s like, if you only go from 25 to 26 miles an hour, you need a lot more watts to get that extra mile an hour versus going from like 12 to 13. You don’t need a whole lot extra because you start hitting that threshold where you just can’t push the air that much more.

So, when you go between running and swimming, it just seems so vastly different because as a runner, you just don’t encounter the kind of speeds that air resistance is gonna create so much tension that you hit that wall and have to overcome all that drag. So, I think it’s hard to relate that to people who haven’t really spent time in the pool or haven’t hit those, like high ends on the bike. [crosstalk] Like we can obviously explain it and say, okay, yeah, it’s like this.

But to experience it is different, because you can go, you’ve been in the pool now, even if you’re not as high level as the people you’re studying. You know it’s like, you can be going what you think is like zone four, and then you hit what would feel like zone six, and you’re barely any faster.

KATIE: Yeah. Yeah.

JESSE: And you’re like, I put it so much more effort for that and got almost nothing out of it.

KATIE: Yeah, that happens to me all the time. Like I’ll go like a max hundred in the pool and then I’ll go one that feels like seven or eight out of 10 and it’s literally like three seconds difference max. And that’s partly because I’m not a very good swimmer and I can’t go very fast. But it’s also like putting so much more effort to get like this tiny change in time, it gets a bit depressing.

And also the difference in swimming and running is the tactics are so different. So, you’re talking about running races on the track, and even marathons and things like drafting is a big thing positioning, especially on the track in terms of getting yourself into a good position. Whereas swimming, you have your own lane. You don’t have to worry really about what else is doing. You can sort of see what they’re doing. But you can’t… If you only breathe to one side, though most swimmers will breathe bilaterally, you can’t necessarily see what everyone is doing.

And if you’re in an outside lane, you certainly can’t see what the guy in lane four is doing. So, you have to kind of just follow your own race, whereas running, maybe not in triathlon so much but a little bit. But for the top guys, you can sort of base your pacing off of what other people are doing in terms of just getting yourself in a good position. Which could be good or bad, it could be slower than what you’re capable of. Or it could be faster in which case that’s going to hurt you too.

But yeah, it’s such different event dynamics, I suppose with swimming being so like, you can stray into your lane, you can just literally follow your race plan and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. And that’s why I try and get coaches to kind of do’s [??? 42:23] is to focus on their own race rather than worrying about what the guy in the lane next to them is doing.

But it’s easier said than done when you’re in the Olympic finals when you see the guy in the lane next to you like a body length above you and you kind of panic and yeah, and that’s when it comes back to confidence in your own ability and race.

JESSE: Yeah, I have two thoughts. [??? 42:43] obviously like a split here. But you know, I’ve talked to a number of pro triathletes. And the funny thing is that those guys and I think the women do it too. I’ve spoken to more male pros, but they do actually like when they get out on the bike or the swim, they race.

Like they don’t say, hey I know I can hit 315 watts for a 70.3, that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t care what anybody else is doing. They actually race and it’s like almost they don’t even care to some degree what they’re doing. It’s like, I never understood that because the race is so long. Like, why if–

Like Sebastian Kaylee’s known as being a very strong cyclist, so if you know he is crushing the bike le, why are you trying to race with him if you know, you don’t have the same fitness as him? When you know hey, like I’ve got much better running legs, I can catch him on the run.

It boggles my mind that like the best guys in the sport still do it. I don’t get it. It makes no sense to me. And maybe because I did not make it to the pro levels like I wanted, maybe there’s something I just simply don’t understand. And I’m being like a country bumpkin who doesn’t get it. But it doesn’t– [crosstalk]

KATIE: Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense. And it’s the same in any sport, I suppose I think. Especially for something like that where it’s so many hours, why would you go faster than you’re capable when then you’re going to be so tired when you come to the run?

And it’s just, yeah, it doesn’t make much sense. And I think assuming you see it and I think you see in all sports and even like on track running, the 5K on the track, like people try and keep up with the front pack. And you’re like, if you know they’re going too fast, why don’t you just hang back, hang back and then like, gradually work throughout the field.

And that’s what someone like [??? 44:43] does that really well. He just holds back, hangs back, and just sits on the back of the pack. And then as each lap goes, he might just move up one position and by the last lap, he’s right on the front, coming around the last bend and boom, he’s there.

And everyone’s like, “Where’s he come from?” Whereas like that guy you’re saying on the bike, why would you chase the guy who’s awesome on the bike? Yes, you’ll be behind him when you start the run, but you’d be better off just being behind and then like building through your run and finishing strong rather than finishing like on the ground.

JESSE: Yeah. It’s always this psychological game that’s being played, right? Because it’s they’re all– we’re talking about the top of the top for the most part, physical outliers aside, like Michael Phelps, what are you gonna do? But aside from that, you’re pretty much talking everybody’s right in there, you know. So, it’s like, if you stick with your own game plan you’re in the mix. You’re giving your– like you said earlier, for your own physiological setup, whatever your strengths and weaknesses are, you have a great plan for your body. You’re giving yourself the best chance you have to make it.

So, it just boggles my mind that like the best people, men, and women do this. I just feel like I want to shake them sometimes when I hear about it because it’s like psychological discipline, like that’s the other part of all these sports is keeping control of yourself. And when you talk to the winners, that’s usually what happens, right? They’re like every once a while they end up in a scramble, but it’s like, I went out with my game plan, this went a little off, but I adjusted. But for the most part, it’s like I stayed within the levels than I anticipated and executed the plan that we had been putting together for the last year or whatever it was.

KATIE: Yes, yeah.

JESSE: Maybe you can get through to them as an outsider.

KATIE: Yeah. And like I said, it boggles me as well in swimming that we still see people going out super hard and just holding on for dear life at the end. And I think that’s not a no race plan that will work for many people. And granted there are some people, I know swimmers here that have a similar race plan. Like they go out hard and they just hold on as best they can. And they swam PBs, won Olympic medals doing that. So, then it’s hard to argue, where you should change your race plan. I get, has been successful.

But my argument most of the time would be well, from an energy expenditure perspective, it’s much more efficient to maybe just try it this way and see what happens. And some swimmers just doesn’t suit their psychology. They can’t cope with like, psychologically with being behind, they want to be out in front. They just have to be out in front. And that’s fine. And some of their physiology it suits certain race profiles.

But in a 100 meter race, you might be okay to just go out as hard as you can and hold on because it’s short, right? Although still, I would say there’s an element of pacing even in say 50 and 100. Because you can still go out too hard, but when it gets to especially like 200 and above, it’s a very dangerous strategy. I think for many swimmers. I mean, some of the top ones like you’re talking about the freaks like Michael Phelps, he can get away with swimming whatever way he likes to be honest because he’s so just quicker than everyone else, he can do whatever.

And we have some swimmers like that here, it’s like go, do whatever you want, because it works for you and that’s fine. And that’s what they’ve done their whole careers. So, you know, some of them you don’t want to change, but it’s not a strategy for like the youngest who was coming through that I would recommend to anybody. I definitely try to recommend that, yeah, conservative approach.

And then coaches always come back and they go, oh, well, we don’t want them to go out slow. And [??? 48:34] I don’t mean go slow. I mean, conservative like, by that, I mean, just holding back a bit of energy for the second half of the race, so you can actually finish strong. It’s not about I want you to go out slow and be two seconds behind everyone else on the first app, so it’s just, yeah, it’s trying to get that across to coaches.

And I think they’ve responded really well here. And hopefully, we’ll see a bit of a shift in tactics, I suppose. But we’ve definitely seen that in events like the 200 breaststroke, for example, like at Worlds last year, that’s an event, typically you would swim like what I call a positive pacing profile. So, you’re gradually getting slower. And that’s just the nature of breaststroke because it’s such a weird stroke.

But now we’re seeing the Europeans, they’re going out really, really conservative. You know, on the 100-meter mark [??? 49:20] behind, but then the second hundred meters, they come back, like an absolute train, and they just swim over everyone. And that’s something definitely we haven’t seen in the 200 breaststrokes, especially, I guess, unique strategy, but it’s worked. And we’ve seen [??? 49:35] break the world record doing that kind of strategy.

And so it makes you think, oh, maybe that’s something to think about for strokes like that if we go out really conservatively, we can come back super strong. And breaststroke’s very unique in that way in that freestyle is a completely different strategy. But yeah, I think it’s opened people’s eyes a bit. The coach has been like, oh, that’s a different way to swim it, and he swims like a 206. So, maybe that’s something we should look into.

JESSE: Yeah. Maybe you can reframe it somehow where it’s like, so talking about the swimmers that want to just go out hard and just hang on for dear life. It’s like, okay, maybe swam a personal best doing that. But what if I told you you could probably swim another personal best not doing that?

Like you’re limiting yourself by doing it. So, it’s like, can you try it? Have you watched, this is something we watched, I don’t know 1,000 times as US Cross Country runners. There’s a movie about Steve Prefontaine, just called Pre. Have you seen it? Or do you know I’m talking about?

KATIE: I know what you’re talking about but I’ve not seen it, but I really want to.

JESSE: Okay. So, it’s Steve Prefontaine and when Bill Bowerman gets a hold of him in Oregon, and you know, I don’t know to what accuracy the whole movie’s depicted. Obviously, it’s a movie and not the actual occurrence. But Prefontaine was known for running out front. And that was his style. He wanted to be wire to wire in the front. And his coach basically had to break him of that psychology because he was limiting his own potential.

He was like– There’s a scene where he wins a race and his coach is like shaking his head. He’s like, “I won, What’s your problem?” And he’s like, “Yeah, but you could have been faster if you’d not gone out like you did and you’d sat back.” And it’s like, he had to almost break that pride down and being like… Because I think in the movie Prefontaine, the character, at least describes the strategy of basically sitting back like Mo and conserving your energy working way up, he’s like, that’s a chickenshit strategy.

I think that’s a quote. It sounds like it’s that mentality of like, I’m gonna be in the front the whole time, that’s just what it is. It’s cowardly to do anything else. It’s like, I guess, but don’t you want to be the best you can be and figure out what like– shifting the conversation from you have to be upfront to be the best to you can be the best, but you have to be the smartest to be the best.

KATIE: Yeah.

JESSE: Yeah.

KATIE: Yeah. 100%. And like, in running like that, I get why some runners probably wouldn’t be motivated to do that. Because well, as long as they win, it doesn’t matter what time they win, right? Like you can get races at the Olympics World Championships that are really slow, but who cares what the time was because I won gold. Then you’re like, ah, fair enough. And swimming is the same in that it’s still the first person that touches the wall who wins.

But it’s often more I guess, because you can’t see what people are doing, you’re still going for a time. Your target is still based on a time and you hope that that time will get you a medal. And then you’re in the last 50, you can kind of see where people are and you can just give everything you’ve got there.

But yeah, if you say you’re going to have a quicker time, if you swim, maybe try a different strategy, and that quicker time is likely to get you a different color medal, then that could be the motivation. I guess it’s just getting swimmers, who or any athlete who’ve been doing it for years and years and years a certain way to be open to changing or at least trying that. You’re not going to say, “Oh, it’s an Olympic final, I want you to swim in a completely different way [??? 53:35] you’ve ever done before.”

Like that would just be crazy. So, you’re talking about state meets and little meets here and there where you just try something else, and just see what happens. And I guess that’s the kind of just trial and error type thing where some coaches are playing around with that. Let’s just try and go out like this and see what happens on the back end.

But yeah, I guess it’s harder for those experienced guys to want to change because they’re like well, I’ve seen this way, it’s been successful. I’ve been an Olympic champion swimming this way so why would I change? I get that, but then you think well, other people in the world are catching up to you, they’re going to catch up to you eventually. So, you’ve got to keep progressing as well.

And yeah, I still think most people that would go out with that mentality of being out front, and just holding on would theoretically swim quicker, swimming it more conservatively, but that also relies on them psychologically buying into that strategy. And so if they’re not going to do that, then there’s no point trying to change it.

JESSE: Right. Right. You know, I wonder too, you mentioned earlier trying to figure out how to train people into pacing, how to train people to get that feeling. One of my habits has always been, maybe not always but for a very long time now, has been no matter what the workout is, I want a negative split to set, even if it’s minuscule amounts. If we’re talking, so say I’m on the track doing half-mile repeats, and I want to hit 2:45.

Well, maybe the first one, I hit 2:45 9. And the last one, I hit 2:45 1, still a negative split. And I want it to be in that order. I don’t want to pop all around. I want it to be if I decide to go faster, the next one will be equal or faster to the time that I set. And just as a habit, every single time I’m doing any kind of speed work that is always the goal.

And I don’t know if that’s the methodology you take and that’s where you work on really knowing those paces and where are those increases and stuff. But I know that’s been a major key for me at least, knowing my paces and then also being confident in that, hey, let’s set back because I know I’ve done it over and over and over again, increase speed at the end and really have even stronger legs to kick it in at the end.

Or when you’re swimming to stroke faster or whatever you need to do to make that adjustment to get in. So, I wonder if that’s how you approach it with the swimmers is like this is the new plan. But I guess that would come from coaching down.

KATIE: Yeah, and I mean, I love that idea. And I’ve seen a lot of coaches do that here. The high level coaches will prescribe sets based on splits. So, they’ll be looking, you know, [??? 56:40] instead, they might be looking for even splits, you know, say for a breaststroke and butterfly you can for even, whereas for a freestyle, yeah, you want a negative split.

And one of the things that came out of my coach interviews for my Ph.D. was interesting in that a lot of coaches and I guess it’s the same all across the world when you’re working in large squads, it’s hard to get split times. When you’ve got 30 kids in the pool, how do you get split time to give them that feedback? Because I’ve seen a lot of coaches, they’ll prescribe negative splits, even splits but they don’t take the splits because they physically can’t.

Because there’s 30 kids in the pool, there’s one of them, they’ve got four stopwatches. I mean, how can you possibly… And they’re pretty good, I mean, swimming coaches are awesome at stopwatches. But I mean, there’s only so much you can do. And so that was one of the barriers that they mentioned that they can’t get things like split times and stroke rates because there’s just too many kids in the pool.

They don’t have enough people on deck to help. Because obviously, the top-level guys tend to have much smaller squads. They’ll have the assistant coach or sports scientist on deck to help them with that and so it’s much easier.

But that’s something I think we need to get better at with the younger kids coming through because that is the way they learn how to pace. If you [??? 57:48] to even split it, but you don’t give them the split time of feedback, how are they meant to know whether they did or they didn’t even split? But it is a challenge for them and I totally get that.

And so that’s where, you know, there’s things you can do to work around that. So, getting split times for a certain number of kids on this effort. And on the next effort, I’ll get the next wave of swimmers, their splits, or whatever. Or you set up your set so, obviously, most coaches will have their priority swimmers and you focus on them, but then it’s the kids that get kind of missed out, they never learned how to pace because they don’t get that feedback.

JESSE: Right. It’s like they could be getting better too. You never know like, how they’re gonna progress as they get older.

KATIE: Yeah, definitely. But the high level coaches that we work with do do a lot of that negative split stuff. And it works really well because we have the capacity to get the split times. And most of the swimmers I work with, they’re really good at that.

And you know, the end of a tough set, they’ve done a really big set of like pace work, and at the end, you want them to go out, I don’t know 100 negative split, and it has to be a negative split. And they’re all just really good at nailing that. And so they have a good awareness but yeah, it’s that ability to be able to, I guess provide that feedback is part of the challenge.

JESSE: As we’re talking about it, funny enough, so you’re talking about the pacing lights. And when I was in college, I was like that same idea, I don’t know whether it existed yet, but I was like, that’s what I was dreaming of a company. And I was like, that’s what I should do is set up pacing lights on the track, because I would do sets by myself.

And I’m like that’s, thinking about how do you teach people how to pace and I was like if you had just a loop around the track and you had a light for a rabbit, you can set up that. And there are companies now, actually a local company [??? 59:36] that builds those now.

So, thinking about your pacing problem, I’ll say it so that you can put it out to the universe and somebody can build it because I am not an electronic engineer. If you had something like a chip timing system like and running setup at each end of the pool, and then you had a chip the kids, then you could theoretically, if it’s accurate, automatically be getting split times as they’re coming up and down the pool without having to manually hit that stopwatch.

And then you’d have start time, you know, if you’ve got five kids in a lane, one starts off the wall, you know, timer starts, timer doesn’t start for everybody else because they haven’t left yet. That’s a big software problem to work out. But theoretically, I’m thinking that’s probably the easiest way to get that many kids is to have a chip system so that it’s automatically collecting that data.

KATIE: Yeah, definitely. And the technology I guess, in swimming is definitely getting better. Like there’s things like [??? 01:00:41] wear which is the little devices in a cap that will get split times. You know, and you can connect an iPad to big TV and you can have everyone split times coming up as they come in. So, that kind of does a similar thing. And yeah, there’s various bits of technology out there trying to do, I guess that kind of thing. But I guess the challenge always comes back to cost.


KATIE: And I know for a lot of the coaches like, yeah, okay, the high-performance programs can afford to buy [??? 01:01:10] units and pay the subscription fee. But the small clubs that might have some really good swimmers, they can’t afford those thousands of dollars to get those.

And then there’s some things where the coaches will ask the kids to buy something, like recently we’ve been using the polar heart rate monitors, and the kids can buy them themselves. They’re only 130 bucks, there’s no subscription. It’s pretty easy, but getting them to buy their own [??? 01:01:33] and wear or whatever it might be that’s however much money, is a challenge.

So, yeah, the programs with money and can do it and the ones without, sort of end up still struggling with the old stopwatches. So, yeah, it’s tricky. If someone could make something that was a bit more affordable I supposed to those programs. But it’s hard because it’s pretty– Like I say it’s simple technology, but it’s also probably a bit complex. And again, I’m not an engineer, either. I don’t really know anything about that. But it’s simple but complex, if that makes any sort of sense.

JESSE: Right. Like what you’re trying to do is not particularly difficult, like the objective, but the execution and making it accurate is the challenge.

KATIE: Yes. And accuracy is, I feel like youth programs, probably if it’s a bit out, it’s not a huge issue, but you still want it to be accurate. And that’s one thing we always have with new technology that we try and use is that we’re always trying to validate it or check the reliability of it. Because if it’s not reliable and valid, then there’s not much point of using it.

Especially when you’re paying thousands of dollars for something and you know, it’s not very reliable. And so you’re like, “Well, okay, we’ll just use stopwatches because at least that’s reliable and it’s cheaper. So, yeah.

JESSE: All right. Katie, as we’re kind of running short on time, I’m asking everybody this year, the same question because it kind of goes across the board for everyone. So, I’m curious on your opinion, what do you think the purpose of sport is?

KATIE: Whoo. That’s a tough question. The purpose of sport, I don’t know. I can’t imagine life without sport. I guess most people we speak to, their whole life revolves around sport. And so, for me, the purpose of my life is sport, if that makes sense. Like, if sport wasn’t around I don’t know what my purpose in life would be. But I think that’s just like the ability of sport to bring people together and like connect people.

Like the amount of people I’ve met through sport, for me, is amazing. And I’ve got contacts all over the world just from being away on training camps and competitions and just meeting different people. So, yeah. Does that even answer the question? I’m not sure.

JESSE: No, absolutely. Everybody has a different answer and that’s why I love the question. Because sport affects everybody so differently yet, as you said, it’s kind of this like, almost [??? 01:04:05] quite say universal, but it’s this thing that runs a thread between all of our lives and connects us in ways that we don’t always know immediately, but we come together to celebrate and watch and participate and all these kind of things. Yet, it’s also different for each one of us.

KATIE: Yeah.

JESSE: Yeah. Katie, is there any place people can keep up with you, see your research, any of that kind of stuff?

KATIE: Yeah, probably mostly on Twitter or my ResearchGate profile or LinkedIn as well. Yeah

JESSE: Okay. What’s your Twitter handle?

KATIE: I think it’s just Katie McGibbon, pretty basic not going with anything fancy there; @KatieMcGibbon.

JESSE: Well, thanks for hanging out with me today, Katie.

KATIE: Thanks, Jesse.

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