Night owls may want to reschedule morning swim meets

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According to “Circadian Effects on Performance and Effort in Collegiate Swimmers,” a recent article by Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Biology Department Krista Ingram, night owls may make less efficient swimmers in the morning.

Ingram and her co-authors Neil Albert, university registrar and director of institutional planning, assessment, and research; Austin Anderson ’17; Gillian Murray ’17; Meghan Herlihy ’17; Chloe Weiss ’18; Jacob King ’18; and Ellen Hutchinson ’18 worked with Colgate’s Department of Athletics to measure the performance speed and physiological effort exerted by individual athletes during tasks at different times of the day.

“We showed that their speed is slower at their off-peak time and their effort is greater,” said Ingram. “So, to achieve a particular speed, they are expending a lot more energy. That is, they are experiencing a lot more physiological stress.”

The research, which combined athletics, psychology, and biology, was funded by a Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute grant, awarded to Ingram, Albert, and Director of the Writing and Speaking Center Jenn Lutman. It drew inspiration from a 2015 summer research project with Gian Sepulveda ’17, Murray, and Hutchinson.

“We did a pilot project after wondering whether morningness and eveningness affected people’s workouts at Trudy Fitness Center,” said Ingram. “We would sit outside of Trudy all summer and ask people who had completed their workouts to take the survey and provide a hair sample.”

Ingram gave special praise to Colgate’s Division I athletic program for working with the researchers throughout the study.

“They were amazing, said Ingram. “The rigor at which their program is run is astounding to me. Each coach and athlete we interacted with was phenomenal.”

“Circadian Effects on Performance and Effort in Collegiate Swimmers” is available in the Journal of Circadian Rhythm now.