The University of Limerick has opened Ireland’s first residential altitude training centre. The state-of-the-art facility provides elite sportspeople the opportunity to undertake altitude training while also availing of the world-class sports facilities on campus at UL. The project has been undertaken and funded by Plassey Campus Centre.
Athletes from all endurance sports; athletics, swimming, rowing, cycling, triathlon, boxing and team sports such as rugby, football, hockey can benefit from altitude training. With no natural high altitude site available in Ireland, many Irish athletes have been forced to travel abroad to training at considerable financial cost.
Professor Phil Jakeman, Director of the National Altitude Training Centre at UL explains altitude training: “The success of this mode of performance enhancement is underwritten by the fact that altitude training has been used by virtually every medallist competing in endurance-based sports over the past 10 years. Currently, the most effective altitude training programme involves ‘living’ at an altitude of 2000m to 3000m for a period of 14-28 days. This is normally achieved by athletes travelling abroad to high altitude camps away from their normal training environment and support structures. Athletes residing at this altitude find it impossible to maintain their sea-level training programme and therefore must undertake a daily trek to an altitude below 1500m to train, returning to altitude again overnight. Furthermore, this type of residential altitude setting provides only one altitude, a one-size-fits-all approach that defies best practice in terms of specificity of training.”
The National Altitude Centre at UL comprises of seven bedrooms a shared living space which can cater for up to seven athletes at any given time. The facility has installed an hypoxic air conditioning system that allows independent control of the ‘simulated altitude’ in each room, thereby optimising the altitude response for each athlete. The system is capable of simulating an altitude range from sea level to 5000m.
Professor Phil Jakeman continued; ‘UL is pioneering a new approach for the sporting community in Ireland that allows the altitude to be set independently for each athlete, dependent on their altitude response, thereby optimising the altitude effect. This can be achieved whilst resident in a campus facility that can provide on-site training facilities and the further benefit of scientific and medical support from the UL research community. Establishing this facility in Ireland will now allow the directors of high performance sport and the sporting community the opportunity to benefit from altitude training as a potential aid to performance enhancement. The launch of this facility has attracted the interest of Olympians from within Ireland and abroad preparing for London 2012.”
Ronald Claes, Coach to Irish Olympic athlete Grainne Murphy and High Performance Coach, Swim Ireland based at UL highlights the significance of this facility for his athletes; “Altitude training is an essential part of the training for a competitive swimmer. This facility now provides us with an essential resource which will help to make this country a more compelling destination for Olympic preparation.”
Professor Jakeman added; “The R&D potential that this facility provides is also significant for applied sports performance research in Ireland. The considerable on-site expertise within the Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences is currently working with a number of national sports bodies and we expect significant international interest in the research capability of this facility in the future.”
The National Altitude Centre, UL is managed by Plassey Campus Centre. Booking queries relating to the facility contact: Noreen O’Shea Manager Altitude House Tel +353 61 202081