In the Russian ice swimming competitions, the athletes are subjected to ECG, pulse oximetry, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature tests before they are cleared for competition.
“Anything over 140/90 and we were sent away to retry if necessary,” explains Nuala Moore. “If you have elevated blood pressure and a clean ECG and present your case. If there is any sign or arrhythmia, the swimmers are not allowed to swim. This is non-negotiable.”
But the physicians allow the athletes to retry because they know they have traveled long distances to get to the competitions. “They do allow you to go away and come back. If there changes they will accept,” says Moore. “Sometimes travel, bad food, alcohol, dehydration, white coat syndrome, etc. all impact on the body. If you can show signs of change, they will reassess. As a result, I approach every event initially to get through the medical not the distance.”
The physicians carefully monitor the swimmers both before and after their races. “When the swimmer exits the water after 1000 meters, they are directed to the medical tent which had 6 beds only 30 foot away. Not all swimmers require medical attention after their races. Everyone has an immediate assessment. When they are cleared, they go to the sauna for recovery.”
But there are challenges to the medical clearance. “Many people have arrhythmias several times a day – their normal day – but the Russian doctors do tend to do a big reading and Murmansk was the biggest ECG printout I have had. But they will allow you to come back and they test you several times.”
Medications are also an important issue. “Medications are different in different countries so knowing and carrying your base ingredients of your meds is important. Any allergies need to be declared. If you bring your own ECG, this can be compared. I also bring my own ECG’s as well.”
Moore recommends the following in order to pass the medicals. “Eat well, hydrate, rest as much as is possible, avoid caffeine including caffeine drinks, excess sugar. Clear your mental clutter, stay healthy in advance and also do not take alcohol in advance of the event. Those are the things we can effect change in.”
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