Milk fuels elite athletes

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Col Pearse enjoys a drop of moo juice.

Champion swimmer Col Pearse enjoys a cold drink after training, but you may be surprised at his choice.

“Growing up on a dairy farm in Echuca, Victoria, my drink of choice has always been milk after a long day of training — whether that was running around on the local footy field, or after a big day of swimming,” Col, 20, said.

“I’m able to get more out of my performance when drinking milk at the right moments, such as straight after intense training sessions.”

When every second counts in the pool, it’s important that he fuels his body with nutritious food like dairy.

“There’s nothing more I look forward to than my cold chocolate milk after training,” Col said, while promoting World Milk Day on June 1 for Dairy Australia.

“And knowing that milk is naturally fuelling my body with the nutrients I need to recover makes it just that much better.”

Australian Women’s Rugby League captain Kezie Apps says growing up on a generational dairy farm in Bega, NSW, dairy has always been a big part of her diet, even more so now that she is a professional athlete.

“Getting milk, cheese or yoghurt in my daily diet has always been ingrained in me, and especially now as a professional athlete, it forms a massive part of my sports nutrition,” Kezie said.

“Rugby league is a high contact sport so it’s important for my muscles to recover and repair quickly.

“Drinking a glass of milk that’s packed with protein straight after a training session or game really helps with that. It also naturally contains electrolytes making it perfect for rehydration.”

Swimmer Col Pearse after his return from the World Para Championships.

Col is the son of Teena and Julian Pearse from Bamawm Extension, near Echuca, who run a 500-cow dairy farm.

A few years ago, Col, who lost his foot in an accident with a mower, moved to Melbourne to ramp up his training regime and with his eye on the major international event, the Paralympics.

At the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London, he won the bronze medal in the men’s 100m butterfly S10 and sixth in the men’s 100m backstroke S10 and men’s 200m individual medley.

At the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, Col won the bronze medal in the men’s 100m butterfly S10 with a time of 57:66, three seconds slower than the gold medal winner Maksym Krypak of Ukraine who set a world record.

Col competed in the men’s 200m individual medley SM10 and made the final where he finished fourth.

Dairy News Australia spoke to Col as he was preparing for the selection trials in Brisbane where the Paris Paralympic squad was chosen.

“I’m really confident, the training I have done is the hardest I have ever done in my career. I’m older and stronger than I was a year ago,” he said.

“The goal for me is to get onto the podium.”

The 50 to 60km a week Col has been swimming paid off that trials, and he has been selected to represent Australia at the Paris Paralympic Games in August.

Sixth-generation dairy farmer Sarah Kelly.

Sixth-generation dairy farmer Sarah Kelly sees first-hand the positive impact the dairy community has in her Gippsland community.

“World Milk Day is a good reminder for all Australian dairy farmers to recognise the importance the industry has on feeding the nation, and the importance of milk and its health benefits,” Sarah said.

“To celebrate World Milk Day, I’ll be milking a whole lot of cows with pride!

“I’m so proud to be working in an industry that makes a difference.”