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Irish student makes a splash in sports research


Irish exchange student Laura Heffernan

From the Emerald Isle's frosty winter to the Land Down Under's scorching summer, Laura Heffernan isn’t afraid to throw herself in the deep end. 

“Since I’ve arrived on the Gold Coast, there’s been a number of heat waves, so apparently it’s been even hotter than it normally is,” laughs Miss Heffernan.

“It’s certainly been a shock to the system going from freezing cold temperatures to 38-degree days. But I hate the cold, so I’m trying to soak up this hot Aussie weather as much as I can!” 

Over the next six months, the 20-year-old Exercise and Sports Sciences student from Limerick University will assist researchers at Bond University’s Institute of Health & Sport. 

“My course back home requires us to complete a six-month placement either at home or abroad,” says Miss Heffernan. 

“When I saw that Bond University had an institute dedicated to sports research, I jumped at the chance to apply.

“The things I’ve been reading about and researching back home are the things they’re actually doing here at the centre, which is really exciting.”

Miss Heffernan is currently diving deep into data analysis.

“Right now, I’m assisting a PhD student with analysing the underwater dolphin kick for professional swimmers,” she explains.

“Swimming is not big in Ireland, so it’s very interesting to see how much money and resourcing is put into swimming here, compared to home.”

Despite being only three weeks into her time abroad, Miss Heffernan has already joined a local sporting team. 

“I joined a Gaelic football team here called the Gold Coast Gaels. It’s all Irish girls playing football – which is something I used to do back home,” she says.

“I came out here on my own, so it’s been a really great way to meet people and get out and about.

“I even got the chance to go to Melbourne with the team to play in a Gaelic football tournament!”

After wrapping up her undergraduate degree, Miss Heffernan plans to complete her Masters in Physiotherapy.

“The physio degrees in Ireland don’t really have a sporting element to them,” she says.

“There are limited professional sporting teams in Ireland, so it’s just not as much of a big deal as it is here in Australia. 

“That’s why I really want to soak up as much sporting experience as I can during my undergraduate degree and during my placement at Bond.”  

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