Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei, Wednesday: Queensland surf lifesaverTerri Sullivan was gradually getting back into training after a leisurely post-Aussies lay-off, when she received a phone call that quickly put a halt to her off-season siesta.
The good news Ã¢â‚¬" at the age of 29, the Gold Coast City Council Customer Service Officer was about to make her first Australian Lifesaving team.
The not-so-good news Ã¢â‚¬" she would be competing in at the World Games in tropical Chinese Taipei in a little over three weeks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was very excited to get the call, but a little bit nervous, as I would have only a couple of weeks preparation for the competition,Ã¢â‚¬Â she recalled today, while sitting by the Kaohsiung Swimming Pool, where she had just completed one of her first training sessions with the Australian team.
Terri was a late call up to the team following the withdrawal of fellow Telstra Sunfish team mate Elizabeth Pluimers following a diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis.
Following a strong performance in the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series earlier this year with a second and third place, along with the Australian Open Board Rescue and Ski Relay titles under her belt, Terri was an obvious replacement, despite her lack of preparation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Once I got the news I trained intensively with [fellow team member] Kristyl Smith, which has helped, although I'm praying for another typhoon to kick the surf up a bit,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Apparently there was one last week and the surf was more than six foot making it very similar to the Gold Coast, but unfortunately it has dropped right off since then.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As the team Ã¢â‚¬Ëœrookie', Terri has the privilege of escorting team mascot Ã¢â‚¬ËœMunroo'- a toy kangaroo named in honour of former captain Kristy Munroe Ã¢â‚¬" wherever she goes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That's not so much of a problem but the other girls, who are all younger than me, are making me pick up all their gear,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said with a smile.
Terri will compete in the Board Race and Ironwoman event on Saturday, but before then, two days of competition in the sweltering humidity of the Kaohsiung International Pool will see her team mates attempt to hold off the mounting challenge from seven other nations, many of whom have had much more time to acclimatise to local conditions.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The temperature was 28 degrees and the humidity was 98% when we arrived at the pool on the first morning and I lost almost a kilogram after a 45 minute training swim, so performances will be affected,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
Wade Sinclair, the team's sport scientist from James Cook University in Townsville, agrees that the hot, humid conditions will affect performances.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everyone has competed in hot temperatures before, but few have experienced the combination of high temperatures and humidity, so we are looking to science to keep the athletes in peak condition,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The biggest challenge is the humidity as your body doesn't lose heat efficiently when sweat rolls off the skin. The athletes lost between 800g and 1.6 kg at the first morning's training session, so we are trying to keep them well hydrated.Ã¢â‚¬Â
To make matters worse, the team Ã¢â‚¬Ëœslushee' maker, used to keep core body temperatures down, has been delayed in transit and may not be here in time to help keep them cool during the critical competition days.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This will have an enormous on performance as your body doesn't properly acclimatise for six days and is quite fatigued while trying to make that adjustment,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sinclair says.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The majority of the team said today they feel as though they have just stepped off the plane from Australia, so fatigue will obviously be an issue,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
For pool specialist Luke Harper, his first appearance in an Australian Lifesaving team is also shaping up to be one of his toughest.
The 26 year old pool instructor from Torquay is the first Victorian to make the team since beach sprinter Abby Lewtas in 2006 and the first swimmer since Cliff Goulding in 1981.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“With the extreme weather conditions it will be quite challenging, especially the events where you have to swim under water for 100m,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thursday's first day of competition will be tough as I am backing up after the 200 metre Obstacle Swim with the 50 metre Manikin Carry and then the relays.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Being my first combined Australian team I'm hoping to hold my own ground and put as many points on the board to give the team a buffer going into the ocean events on Saturday,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.