This high season, Asia’s leading sports resort and one of the finest aquatics facilities in the world has been the training site for a number of international swimming teams. Between December and February, several National – Czech, Hungarian, Dutch, German, and French – as well as British National Paralympics Swim Team and Canadian National Youth Swimming Team have been kick starting the Rio 2016 Olympics season.
For some of the teams, training camps in Phuket at this time of the year have already become a tradition. This is the fourth year at Thanyapura for the Royal Dutch National Team whose coaches have recommended it to their German colleagues who are now here for the first time – and they all love it. According to Henning Lambertz, head coach of the German Swimming Federation, Thanyapura is “the best place to be for the moment.”
All swimmers and coaches mention excellent swimming conditions and facilities as their main reason for coming to Thanyapura. Taking advantage of the superb swimming pools, hotel and exercise facilities – all in close proximity to one another – makes their days full of hard work that much easier. The stunning setting and delectable food round their experience up; for many swimmers, training outdoors against the natural backdrop is a particularly elating experience.
Additionally, the coaches explain that sun exposure helps their swimmers gain strength, as sun in Europe is scarce this time of the year. During winter months swimmers tend to get ill due to low temperatures and being in and out of water, which can disrupt the preparation period. Here, they not only get that extra vitamin D but they also get used to swimming in hot conditions, which later helps them during worldwide competitions.
For Ellie Simmonds, Paralympic swimmer from the UK who won her first Olympic gold medal at the age of 13, training side by side with other renowned swimmers keeps her motivated. “I’ve achieved my dreams,” she says, “but being able to come away on a training camp like this is what I enjoy doing.”
As a professional swimmer, Ellie keeps herself motivated not only by doing what she loves, but also by visualizing her past victories and reminding herself what it felt like on the winning podium. She believes that there is always a way to achieve something and that if we are able to figure it out, nothing can stop us from realizing our dreams. She also recognizes that it was swimming that has given her the confidence to go after her desires. In her view, limits don’t exist as everyone sets their own.
“Any training is a mind game,” says Martin Truijens, one of the coaches of the Royal Dutch National Team. Everything swimmers do in the pool or gym has a strong mental component to it; therefore, training strategies he and his team implement are highly customized to suit each player’s abilities.
Martin stresses that relaxation is as important as the technical side of swimming, and his advice to novices is to learn how to relax. In his view, many inexperienced swimmers focus on the techniques and try too hard, instead of simply learning to communicate with the water. His advice to them is to experience what the water does with them, instead of the other way around.
According to Martin, one can be talented in many ways both physically and mentally, and a high standard in every one of those areas is a pre-requisite for becoming a champion. But being an elite swimmer also requires dedication, discipline and motivation to stretch their talent as far as they can go – as possibilities, Martin agrees with Ellie, truly are unlimited.
Thanyapura’s swimming facilities include a 50m Olympic competition pool, a 25m training and teaching pool, Omega Track start blocks, a Daktronics timing system and scoreboard, and underwater video analysis window, ozone filtration and sports science services.
Thanyapura plans to start building the first 100m training pool in Asia this coming April.