Jodi Cossor is a senior biomechanist who specialises in swimming sports, and works with some of our Commonwealth games, Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
What do you do on an average work day?
The great thing about my job is that there is no average day as we continue to adapt to the needs of the coaches and the athletes. There are plans in place as to when filming/analysis sessions will occur throughout the season but it is the discussions with coaches and colleagues that lead to ideas that can be implemented within the high performance environment.
Swimmers train from 7.00am-9:30am and again at 3:30pm-6.00pm in the pool, and I tend to work with them during these times. The feedback that is provided can either be immediate when we are trying to implement “easy changes” or in a time frame outside of the pool where we can discuss their performances along with their competitors in order to determine long term changes.
Regardless of whether the swimmer is able bodied or in the Paralympic program, they are all individuals and the support that we provide them is aligned to this. The swimmers have created their own style of technique and it is my job to maximise their strengths as well as apply biomechanical principles to make them move through the water more efficiently.
What did you study at school? And after high school?
The subjects that I studied at school were English, Advanced Maths, Biology, Physical Education and Chemistry. If I knew what I wanted to do while I was in high school, I should have included Physics! After school I did a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and a Master of Science in Human Movement (Swimming Biomechanics). I didn’t complete my PhD until 2014 when I had more than 15 years of applied experience supporting athletes in high performance sport.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
I was fortunate that after some work experience during high school that I was clear on my career path so my study was directly related to my job. Having said that, I am looking to transition into a new career after the next Olympics and Paralympics so I am doing a Master in Management part time to help with this.
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
Consider what you really want to do as it really helps to have work be your passion rather than just a job. It is definitely possible to change your mind at a later date if your first choice doesn’t work out to be something that you love doing.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
I have been really fortunate to work with some amazing coaches, athletes and like-minded sports scientists in three different countries (Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand). Generally, this work is within the daily training environment but I have also been included on the national team during numerous competitions in the last 20 years. These have included Commonwealth Games, World Championships, European Championships, Pan Pacific Championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Why do you believe engaging in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is important to New Zealand?
Science has always been something that has interested me and technology will continue to be a driver amongst numerous industries. New Zealand has a strong pedigree of people making things happen from an innovative perspective and these ideas/solutions tend to stem from science, technology, engineering and maths.
Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
Being a woman is not a limiting factor when it comes to achieving your dreams. Having more women working in STEM can show that getting the right people for the job is more important than more traditional gender specific roles.
Jodi Cossor is a senior biomechanist within High Performance Sport New Zealand working with elite athletes within Swimming New Zealand and Paralympics New Zealand (swimming).
This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.
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