Adelaide: What's a Belgian boffin got to do with Kyle Chalmers' quest for a rare Olympic golden double? Plenty, according to Australian swimming's head coach Jacco Verhaeren.
A Belgian professor is part of Chalmers' plan to become the first man in two decades to win 100m and 200m freestyle gold medals at the same Olympics.
The last swimmer to achieve the feat was celebrated Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband at the 2000 Sydney Games.
At the time, Van den Hoogenband was coached by Verhaeren.
And Verhaeren sees striking similarities between the swimmer dubbed 'The Flying Dutchman' and Australia's Big Tuna.
"Kyle is a lot stronger than the Pieter that I coached, more physical strength, has also a bit more anaerobic skills," said Verhaeren.
"But aerobically, he is actually of the same make-up as Pieter was. So that means that he can actually combine the 100 and 200."
Chalmers, at the Australian titles in Adelaide this week, won his favoured 100m freestyle.
The 20-year-old set a fresh Commonwealth record doing so, bettering the time that delivered him Olympic gold in the event in 2016.
Chalmers then collected the national 200m freestyle title, evidencing the 100-200 golden goal at next year's Olympics is truly on track.
Which is where the Belgian professor comes in.
Professor Jan Olbrecht has crafted specific testing to determine VO2 Max levels – in layman's terms, the amount of oxygen a person can utilise during intense exercise.
"It gets very technical, VO2 max which is oxygen uptake and lactate production," Verhaeren said.
"And the professor has a unique system in the world to simulate that and to give training advice to a coach.
"He is not saying 'you have to train like this'. He's more explaining 'this is the type of athlete you have and these are the training actions'."
Verhaeren shares the professor's information with Verhaeren, who in turn relays it to Chalmers' personal coach, Peter Bishop.
"My first Olympics was '96 and ever since, I have worked with the professor," Verhaeren said.
"And Bish adopted this two or three years ago, to start working a little bit in that philosophy and training style and using these tests. It's not the be-all, end-all, but it's a determiner of where your athletes are at and what you could do best in a certain training phase.
"Every coach is different. It doesn't mean that Bish does exactly what I did in the past … but it's good to share knowledge on that level."
Verhaeren is adamant that Chalmers can only improve.
"He is still improving on his skills, he's improving really well on his underwaters, his physique, the testing – it looks very good," he said. "So there is definitely room to grow for him."
But like with van den Hoodenband in 2000, there is a fine line to tread with Chalmers' program.
Chalmers will swim the 200m free, and relay legs, at the world championships this July and next year's Olympics – before he even gets to his pet 1Read More – Source