Sports science plays a huge role in the success of club and national programmes around the world. British Swimming has been at the forefront of scientific development in the sport thanks to their decision to identify and bring in the leaders in the field to support British swimmers. Jodi Cossor was with a full GB team at the BEST Centre in October 2009 and we asked Jodi 10 of the BEST.

1. What is your official job with British Swimming?

Lead Biomechanist.

2. What was your background before moving into British Swimming?

I swam to a National level when I was younger then retired when I started University. I did my undergraduate degree in Human Movement then my masters in Swimming Biomechanics. After graduating I worked for five years at the Australian Institute of Sport in their Biomechanics department in swimming, water polo as well as some netball and cricket. I have been working with British Swimming since January 2002.

3. How did you get into sports science?

When I was swimming, I was fortunate enough to gain some work experience at the South Australian Sports Institute and that is when I decided that I wanted to go down the sports science route. It wasn’t until the end of my undergraduate degree until I decided that I wanted to specialise in Biomechanics.

4. What traits in a young swimmer tend to produce a good senior swimmer?

The ability to take on new information always helps but feel for the water is an innate skill that all top swimmers possess.

5. In terms of sports science, how much has British Swimming changed in the past decade?

Initially Gary Phillips was providing all areas of Sports Science, Sports Medicine (SSSM) to British Swimming then Henryk Lakomy became the SSSM manager at the same time that I joined in 2002. Tim Kerrison brought his expertise on reverse periodisation as well as his race analysis system in early 2005 and in the past few years the SSSM team now consists of a number of S&C coaches, Physiotherapists, Performance Scientists, a lead Biomechanist and lead Nutritionist, medical staff, psychology consultants and a full time manager.

6. What is the plan up to London 2012?

From a SSSM perspective, we have four key impact areas that have been presented to Head Coach, Dennis Pursley. My area is focussing on starts in the first year and will encompass turns and relay takeovers as the software and technology is developed in the coming years.

7. What can British swimmers most improve on from a sports science perspective?

Each athlete is different and requires distinct areas of support, hence the specialist staff in the various fields. As a team, we are working to ensure that all of the boxes have been ticked and are constantly looking for new areas to improve on.

8. What specific testing or exercise would you recommend a swim coach do on a daily basis?

Coaches need to look after themselves as much as the athletes but I assume that you are referring to exercises that they would give to their athletes on a daily basis. I feel that prehabilitation work both before and after the training session can be the most beneficial to all swimmers in all training sessions. The coaches use the warm up to assess the athletes and have their own methods for determining if they are ready to do the type of session that they have prepared for them. My feeling is that there is no one answer for everyone. From a technique point of view, the specific skill should change depending on the type of session but the coach will always give the athlete something to focus on.

9. What can swimming learn from other sports and coaching methods?

This is quite difficult as I have spent most of my life around swimming including coaches and biomechanists from around the world. I have seen the British Swimming team grow in the seven years that I have been working with them and I feel confident that this will continue in the future. The first lesson that I learnt when arriving in the UK was that swimming is not the same around the world and that you need to find a way to adapt to your environment. We have adapted technologies, training sets and techniques from a variety of sports to suit our needs but we need to always keep an open mind in order to move forward. Not everything that is old is bad or new is good but we need to find what works best for our coaches and athletes from any means possible.

10. What three pieces of advice would you give to a young swimmer that wants to reach the top?

• Do the small things well
• Enjoy swimming both in the training and competition environments
• Learn from those around you