Olympic hopefuls sleeping in oxygen tents
CITY Olympic hopefuls Antony James and Steve Beckerleg are training at 3,000 feet – without even having to leave home.
The duo, like many Great Britain hopefuls, are sleeping in oxygen tents, which boost an athlete's red blood cells.
That in turn helps them to perform at a high standard with less oxygen.
Former Olympic silver medalist middle distance runner Steve Cram regularly trained in mountains prior to an important competition to achieve the same effect.
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The 'training', which simulates the thin air at 3,0000 feet, will make the swimmers feel off-colour for a few weeks.
But they are scheduled to be at full fitness when it really matters – at the British Championships in March.
The championships, which are being held at the same water complex as this year's Olympics, are qualifiers for the London 2012 Games.
Both James and Beckerleg are hoping to hit peak form by the championships, which will see the Leander duo take on some of the UK's best swimmers.
Beckerleg said: "It's the first time we've tried this and apparently you feel awful for six weeks, then you feel amazing.
"If I can train as well as I can, but with less oxygen, then that's got to be a positive."
Leander head coach Jon Rudd said: "Basically, they'll get less oxygen, which will increase their red blood cells.
"Effectively, they will be training at 3,000 feet for next few weeks."
James and Beckerleg swam for Leander in an international meet at Nancy, France, at the weekend.
James, however, 'won' his 100-metre butterfly race, only to be disqualified by judges.
Rudd said: "Apparently, Antony made an illegal turn, though he doesn't think he did and I certainly don't.
"What he's annoyed about is that he lost out on £600 in prize money, which is understandable.
"But this meeting was all about performance and Antony recorded a time of 53:46, which meant we succeeded in our aim of getting him to break the 54-second mark."
Rudd added: "The good thing is that we are where we need to be before the British Championships.
"Steve also swam well and if you're talking about our (Leander's) main Olympic chances – Steven, Antony and Ruta Meilutyte – then they're all in advance of what we were hoping for.
"The meet at Nancy attracted some top swimmers – the French pretty well had their full-strength squad out, and there were a number of international swimmers from the Netherlands, Israel and Slovenia, so it was a pretty high standard."