Piecing Together the Puzzle of Excellence

Published On: February 20, 2016

Chantal worked hard to make it to the starting line at World’s in Chicago, having suffered a broken scapula in a bike crash a month prior.

Following the crash we were told it would take a minimum of six weeks to recover from the broken scapula and a start at World’s was an uncertainty. If Chantal were unable to compete at this event, it would have made it virtually impossible to qualify for Rio in 2016. Qualification for Rio 2016 involves a point system that requires athletes to score at World’s, their Continental Championship and at a third World Para Event. The top seven athletes in points worldwide then qualify for a start at the Rio Paralympic Games.

Chantal’s seventh-place finish at World’s while racing at less than optimal health has kept Rio hopes alive.

Unfortunately, due to the crash, Chantal had to miss a World Para Event in Edmonton which was run two weeks prior to World’s. Missing this event means she needs to race in World Para Events in Australia and Japan this upcoming spring to accumulate Paralympic qualification points. Chantal will start the year defending her Pan American Championship title in Sarasota, Florida on March 12, 2016. We hope to start the season off with a great result.

For the time being, Chantal is now focusing on a large block of training in order to be prepared for a big 2016 racing season.

The off-season allows for specialized training to be implemented so that Chantal can take her performance to the next level:

  • Kyle, the strength and conditioning coach, works with Chantal in the weight room twice weekly to improve muscular strength and endurance to withstand the day-to-day grind of an elite triathlete. Kyle and Glen, the physiotherapist, are also working to make sure that muscular issues from the crash (or from before) are being corrected.
  • In the sport science lab, our physiologist is trying out hypoxic (low oxygen) training with Chantal. Training with lower oxygen can stimulate more mitochondria in the muscle cells to be produced. Since the mitochondria produce energy for the muscles, increasing their numbers would help with the endurance performance, something that will benefit Chantal in her races.
  • Sport dietitian Jorie gets to plan Chantal’s nutrition intake based on everything else going on with her life and training. For Chantal, it isn’t just about how much or what to eat, but when. Timing plays a big role in an athlete’s daily food consumption, and making sure Chantal is properly fueled for all of her training sessions is essential.
  • Chantal will also be doing biofeedback training with Adrienne, the sport psychologist. This type training aims to increase self-control over breathing and heart rate to promote relaxation. Hooked up to various sensors, Chantal is able to see various parameters that she can then focus on and try to relax and control. This can help if ever the excitement and nervousness that comes with big events gets to be too much and relaxation is needed.
  • Last but not least, swim coach Craig and head coach Gary are there at the training sessions, fine tuning technique and always moving Chantal forward to excellence. Plenty of planning is required, especially when trying to juggle every specialist’s schedule to match Chantal’s.

Every piece of the puzzle has to be in place for Chantal to strive and succeed.

As a team, everyone is working hard to get Chantal to Rio, and we are all hoping for the best in the New Year.

Read more blogs about Chantal Givens at goforitchantal.com.