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Commonwealth Games swimmers: the female athlete project led by Dr Natalie Brown is a WIPS research initiative that is currently under way.

Commonwealth Games swimmers:  the female athlete project led by Dr Natalie Brown is a WIPS research initiative that is currently under way.

A Wales-wide research project that helps enhance the performance of Welsh athletes will be able to continue its work thanks to a £440,000 grant from Sport Wales.

The Welsh Institute of Performance Science (WIPS), led by Swansea University, has already been in operation for five years. During this time its research, on areas such as swim kick technique and stress management, has helped drive the success of Wales’s Commonwealth Games athletes.

The new funding will allow its research to continue for a further four years, supporting Welsh athletes competing at major games.

WIPS is a three-way partnership between Sport Wales, Wales’ leading academic sports scientists, and relevant industry partners. It conducts multi-disciplinary, world-leading, applied performance science projects in sixteen different areas, from nutrition, psychology and performance analysis through to youth and disability sport.

The female athlete project led by Dr Natalie Brown is a WIPS research initiative that is currently under way. It is examining the impact of the menstrual cycle on women in sport, ranging from elite sport to participation in physical activity.

This project is focusing on areas such as coach and athlete education, to increase their knowledge and awareness of the menstrual cycle, and elite female athletes' perceptions and experiences of the menstrual cycle in training and competition.

WIPS is a Wales-wide initiative, with members from Bangor University, Cardiff University, University of South Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University, and Swansea University.

Professor Liam Kilduff, head of the A-STEM research group in Swansea University sports science department, and chair of WIPS research steering group and strategic management boards, said:

“It’s a real vote of confidence in the WIPS project that Sport Wales has extended the contract for another 4 years. WIPS was set up to harness the strength of Sport Science research throughout Welsh universities. The success of WIPS is a testament to the hard work all the research steering group members.”

Other Swansea University sports scientists involved are Dr Camilla Knight and Dr Neil Bezodis (co-leads) and Dr Tom Love, Dr Kelly Mackintosh, Dr Mark Waldron and Dr Denise Hill.

Brian Hughes, Lead Physiologist for Sport Wales, said:

“WIPS has had a very positive impact, bringing together Wales’s leading sports science academics and practitioners, medical experts and relevant industry partners, supporting Sport Wales’s holistic approach to athletic development. This collaborative approach has increased capacity to deliver a wide range of performance science projects as well as enhancing research and innovation activities within Sport Wales”

Owen Lewis, Assistant Director, Sport System Strategy and Services at Sport Wales, said:

“Sport Wales has a strategic priority to showcase Wales to the world through success on the international stage, doing so through a holistic approach to developing athletes and creating environments where people can thrive. In order to succeed and drive improvements in these areas, there is the need to expand our research capacity and, indeed, to exceed that of our competitor nations.

WIPS provides the capacity to conduct high impact research in alignment with these strategic priorities and Sport Wales’s wider purpose, to enable sport in Wales to thrive”.

The successful model that WIPS has pioneered will shortly be applied to a new venture which will also be led by Swansea University.

Details are soon to be released about a new Welsh Institute of Physical Activity, Health, and Sport. This will lead research on promoting health and wellbeing through physical activity and sport, with a focus on the Welsh population as a whole.

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