60 Minutes with Cassandra Harvey

Wanaka-based Southland Institute of Technology bachelor of sport and exercise student Cassandra Harvey, 21, (centre) and ...

Wanaka-based Southland Institute of Technology bachelor of sport and exercise student Cassandra Harvey, 21, (centre) and her grandfather Will Harvey check the progress of a swimmer taking part in Cassandra's study.

Reporter Marjorie Cook continues The Mirror's occasional series "60 Minutes" by spending time with Southland Institute of Technology student Cassandra Harvey, of Wanaka.

Cassandra Harvey's got a smashing smile.

She's also quite likely to smash you in the pool. Actually, she has smashed me. Over the last few years, her whole family - mum Tammy, dad Patrick, sister Mikayla -  even her 67-year-old grandfather Will Harvey  - has thrashed me.

Siblings Mikayla and Cassandra Harvey in their Black Magic Women cycle team kit.

Siblings Mikayla and Cassandra Harvey in their Black Magic Women cycle team kit.

So guess what I did when the 21-year-old student asked for participants in her final Bachelor of Sport and Exercise project?

I put up my hand. I know! But she smiled.

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Harvey is a keen triathlete who harbours ambitions to do long course races, which hardly comes a surprise for someone from this family. Three generations of Harveys moved from Auckland to Wanaka several years ago to join in Wanaka's multisport buzz.

The youngest generation have made quite a name for themselves tearing up the tarmac with their Black Magic Women cycle team.

Mikayla was in Doha gobbling up cyclists at the World Junior Road Cycling Champs even as Cassandra was cracking the whip over her study participants at the Wanaka pool.

Cassandra was testing a warm-up theory. At many events, there is a stand down period between warm up and swim start. Athletes wait like corralled horses and get increasingly anxious they're going off the boil.

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"I wondered - am hoping - whether just doing arm exercises while waiting is as good as a cardiovascular warm-up," she said.

That seemed like a good question worth answering. Naturally, I had water in my ears when she asked for help. I only heard the bit about doing a warm up.

When I arrived for my first 30 minute session with Cassandra, I realised more was in store, for there was Will, holding a stop watch. His grin just spoke trouble!

His wife Joy, the post-experiment provider of comfort and chocolate chippie biscuits, got me to sign my life away and explained I would be swimming 400 metres as fast as possible.

That would after ten minutes of arm exercises and press ups with Cassandra.

I suddenly felt really, really nervous. 

"This is Not The Wanaka Olympics," I told myself. (Good name for a future event, that, I reckon.) 

So off I went. Six minutes and 42-ish seconds later I had finished my 16 lengths with the requisite pins and needles to indicate I had indeed swum over my threshold.

The second half hour session was a 10 minute warm up on a spin bike and another 400m "dash".

I finished in a frothing ferment. One second faster. Consistent, is what I felt.

Cassandra said her gut feeling was that either type of warm-up was going to produce a fairly similar time, so I was happy to bear witness to that. However, she hopes arm exercises might be better.

I will have to wait until Cassandra's project has been completed and marked to find out her conclusions.

Cassandra recommends doing the three year Bachelor of Sport and Exercise degree. She will add a teaching degree to her qualifications next year.

"Then I can work in anything from rehab to gym-based management to teaching. I have really enjoyed it," she said. 

 - Stuff


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