Evolution of competitive swimming technology

Tech Tuesday: The Evolution of Competitive Swimming Technology

Reed Karosich and Isabel Hrom

In the ever-evolving world of technological advancement, sports, especially competitive swimming, have become a center of innovation. The world of swimming is watching the progress made to improve the performance of athletes. With the introduction of state-of-the-art devices, athletes experience a revolution in training methods and performance analysis. We set out to explore the dynamic relationship between technology and competitive swimming, uncovering the latest advances that are changing the way athletes approach training and the general foundation of aquatics.

Most of the latest performance technology is used by professional teams and universities willing to spend money for even the slightest advantage. Some of the new apps in use include FINIS Swimsense fins and Garmin to swim. These devices can determine everything from a swimmer’s lap time to the stroke the swimmer took. These valuable tools can collect information and analyze a swimmer’s overall performance. The information gathered through this technology can allow swimmers, coaches and even AI (artificial intelligence) machine learning models to identify ways to improve their training.

With the help of computers, experienced coaches can identify almost any deficiency, weakness, strength, reflex or strategy, ultimately allowing them to determine the ideal stroke for a swimmer’s body, endurance and energy output. This technology can identify precise sets specifically designed to highlight a swimmer’s strengths or address their weaknesses. This type of feedback is essential for improvement. This allows coaches and swimmers to work together to improve the swimmer and provide more opportunities.

For high school and club teams with smaller budgets, coaches can still take advantage of technology and analytics. Taking images and videos of a swimmer’s strokes, streamlines, turns, and dives can provide insight into the swimmer that a typical verbal analysis cannot. Many people carry a powerful camera right in their pockets, built into their smartphones. This feature allows coaches to advise swimmers on areas for improvement, as well as graphically display specific components where they may be performing poorly. For underwater images and videos, a simple GoPro or cell phone in a waterproof case can provide a clear view from the water. Larger teams can afford a limited number of swim monitors, such as Finis. Swimsenseand lend them to their most competitive swimmers.

Finis SwimSense is a swimming performance monitor designed to provide swimmers with detailed information about their training. This device uses a sensor that captures data during swimming sessions. Data captured includes number of laps, total distance, lap time, strokes per lap and calories burned. It also features automatic shock recognition and data transfer, all packaged with a waterproof design and user-friendly interface. Another option is the Swim Mirror, which, while less technologically advanced, allows swimmers to see how they move in the water and watch them adjust their stroke. A full-size mirror would lie on the bottom of the pool and the swimmer would be tied to a bungee. This would hold the swimmer above the mirror as they watch themselves in real time, correcting or improving their technique.

The most dedicated swimmers are constantly looking for ways to improve; after a certain point human resources can become limited. The new technology can help these swimmers improve much more. If teams raised the money to buy equipment for their top swimmers, they could give these athletes tools that their competitors couldn’t match. If the team can’t afford that luxury, coaches can film a swimmer’s performance and run it through an AI learning tool or even advice from a college-level coach to help the swimmer improve. An AI machine learning tool would analyze a swimmer’s stroke, track every detail of it, and plot the resulting data into a graph. He can provide general advice on how to improve technique or study how a swimmer’s stroke changes as they tire during a long event. Recognizing these small details will provide an easy, quick and effective fix to take your swimmer to the next level. The inclusion of AI could be a huge game changer, ushering in a new and exciting era of swimming.

Swimming technology can also improve safety. Swim monitors that detect heart rate and alert coaches in real time can make hypoxic training as well as regular and taper training safer by notifying coaches before, during and after SWB (Shallow Water Blackout) or other injuries. Each year, around 140,000 people worldwide die from drowning. Although reliable statistics on SWB are scarce, it is estimated that SWB is responsible for up to 20% of all drownings. If the implementation of this technology prevented just one of these events, its value would be immeasurable.

In conclusion, the integration of wearable technology into swimming not only provides valuable insights for individual training, but also provides a powerful tool for coaches and athletes. The ability to recognize patterns and improve swimming techniques with constant feedback is a game changer. Videos and wearable device input not only help coaches, but also provide a degree of accuracy that can confuse the human eye. The advent of AI machine learning further enhances this capability by detecting subtle trends that contribute to overall performance improvements. Most importantly, these technologies act as a preventative measure to warn of potential hazards due to overload. As we are on the cusp of technological advancement, these tools are either at our fingertips or just on the horizon, promising a future where swimming performance is optimized and risk is minimized.

Reed Karosich and Isabel Hrom are a pair of swimmers and coaches from the Naples Tiger Sharks in Naples, Italy, and they strive to integrate swimming technology regardless of budget.

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