A software analysis and modeling system, being built at the University of Edinburgh with help from Sheffield Hallam University, is using cameras and visual analysis algorithms to provide real time feedback and recommendations to competitive swimmers and their coaches.
UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council explains:
The new system offers two key benefits beyond the capabilities of any other currently used in elite swimming training. First, the feedback it generates is available immediately, so swimmers and coaches can use it at the poolside and implement its recommendations while a training session is still in progress; this will speed up the whole process involved in improving glide technique. Second, it generates data of unprecedented quality in terms of detail and accuracy.
Ultimately, the result will be faster times in races. Gliding more efficiently, with less ‘drag’, can cut vital fractions of a second from a swimmer’s time. The difference between winning an Olympic title and finishing out of the medals is often measured in hundredths of a second, so this innovative software could give British swimmers a valuable edge in their quest for glory…
First, the swimmer is marked at their body joints using water-resistant markers. The swimmer is then videoed in action using underwater and poolside cameras, with the images fed into a computer equipped with the software. The software tracks the movements of the markers and runs the digitised position data through an innovative, highly sophisticated mathematical model developed at the University of Edinburgh by Dr Roozbeh Naemi. A replay of the swim then instantly appears on a plasma screen at the poolside, overwritten with graphs and data on different technical aspects of the glide.
“Both the speed and accuracy of the feedback will add to the value of the advice that coaches give their swimmers,” says Professor Ross Sanders, who is leading the project. “Another important benefit is that the alterations to technique suggested by the software are customised exactly to suit each individual swimmer.”