Dr. Mike Wilkinson, Sports Physician and a member of SportMedBC’s Board of Directors is in Beijing working with the Rowers. Below are Dr. Wilkinson’s comments on how the athletes he is working with are using the vests to improve their performances.
Most teams here at the rowing venue are using some form of cooling vest, ranging from those with pumps to jackets filled with gel and then the simple ones with ice packs that can be attached and removed.
They are used for pre cooling and also for post race or workout recovery cooling as both uses have been shown to improve performance and recovery time (not only in the heat).
There is some logistical work needed to arrange freezers at the venue and then collection before the start of a race and again giving fresh vests immediately after the race. None of the vests so far are light enough to use effectively during competition.
Originally the vest systems were developed for the military but were too cumbersome. For sports we have simplified them and lightened them. Some of the vests were developed in BC and further refinements are still going on locally to make them easier to wear during competition.