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Life-saving water sports research recognised

Critical enhancements in international water safety regulations reducing the risk of dying whilst participating in cold water swimming have been recognised.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth part of the Extreme Environments research group (EEG) have been honoured with the inaugural Excellence in Physiology Award from The Physiological Society.

The accolade acknowledges the innovative, life-saving physiological research the group has carried out, which has influenced global practices and policies, improving both athlete and occupational safety in extreme environments.

The EEG’s studies have been instrumental in transforming safety standards in sports and occupational fields, especially those associated with extreme environments. Their physiological research has spotlighted the health risks posed to athletes, such as cardiac arrhythmias and hypothermia from cold water immersion, as well as heat-induced impairments.

The British Olympic and Paralympic teams have reaped substantial benefits from the EEG’s work, experiencing improved training and preparation practices across ten Olympic and Paralympic sports. 

Professor Mike Tipton, Professor of Human and Applied Physiology and Head of the EEG, said:

“We are delighted to receive this award and the recognition it gives the work of our research group at Portsmouth, past and present, to saving lives in extreme environments. We are particularly pleased to receive it from The Physiological Society, which has set and facilitated the highest of scientific standards over the years, as well as supporting many members of our group along the way.”

In the occupational arena, the group’s research has yielded transformative insights for workers operating under challenging conditions. By informing protective equipment design, changing training protocols, and influencing policy decisions, EEG’s work has significantly improved the safety of sectors such as defence, emergency services, and the oil and gas industry.

There will be a formal unveiling of the award at the University of Portsmouth on 7 December 2023.

Image credit: University of Portsmouth