Shearer among the athletic elite

27 Apr, 2005 08:45 PM
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DURING his world record effort, Esperance shearer Dwayne Black's shearing efforts weren't the only thing being put to test.

Kerry McGawley, a sports clinician from the University of WA, made a number of tests on Dwayne during his recent world shearing record attempt, in which he sheared 513 Merino ewes in a nine-hour period.

Dwayne originally approached Ms McGawley's supervisor last October and asked if he would be interested in collecting data during his solo Merino lamb world record attempt.

"As there was little, if any, data collected on this type of intense physical activity, we were very interested in testing Dwayne's attempts," Ms McGawley said.

"The data we are collecting from Dwayne is being used to build a case study.

"Our research will be presented at the Australian conference of Sports Medicine."

It has previously been proven that shearing is one of the most physically demanding jobs available, but it has seldom been compared to the physical activity of athletes.

Ms McGawley recorded blood tests, weight, internal temperature, body temperature and heart rate before and after each run.

They were then analysed, with Ms McGawley later writing a report, comparing the figures to other athletic exercises.

On the day of Dwayne's record attempt in Kojonup, the temperature was 30 degrees, which would have meant that the temperature inside the shearing shed would have been higher still.

Over the 12-hour period in which Dwayne was tested, Ms McGawley reports that he lost a total of 12 litres of fluid and lost four kilograms in body mass.

"Assuming that fluid loss occurred only during the 9 hours spent shearing, the rate of fluid loss was around 1.8l/hour," Ms McGawley said.

"This rate is more than three times greater than that of ultramarathon athletes, one of the few athletic groups exercising for similar periods of time, and who rarely lose more than 0.5l/hour."

"These figures clearly highlight the extreme exertion and remarkable effort of Dwayne's world record feat."

Ms McGawley also noted in her report that Dwayne's average exercise intensity for the entire day was 78pc of his estimated maximal heart rate.

"Dwayne worked for a duration equivalent to 5 consecutive AFL games, and still appeared to have been working at a higher, overall relative intensity than the average AFL player of 70-75pc."

Ms McGawley said she was so used to testing regular athletes that Dwayne's results were quite astounding.

"The biggest surprise was the fact that Dwayne held such a high intensity for such a long duration," she said.

"His intensity levels were similar to that of the average athlete, but they only perform for around two to two and a half hours.

"Dwayne worked solidly for nine hours, that's pretty amazing."

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