Technology strengthens Aussie swimmer’s chances for London Olympics Dr. Jodi Richardson | Science of Elite Sport | 26th April, 2011 Australian swimmers are some of the best athletes in the world and a 17 million dollar technology pool at the Australian Institute of Sport has the capacity to make them even faster. The type of analyses the AIS Scientists can conduct using the pool’s technology may just be the difference between a place on the podium and disappointment come the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The AIS Aquatic Testing, Training and Research Unit (ATTRU) is a 10 lane, 50 metre pool with 24 cameras mounted in, overhead and around the perimeter of the pool. Every move a swimmer makes is recorded and can be analysed in real time so coaches have near immediate feedback to share with their athletes. A 3-D image of a swimmer can be rotated and viewed from every angle in a special control room where the equipment is protected from the humid pool environment. The AIS Scientists can quickly determine inefficiencies in a swimmer’s technique and then work on improving their biomechanics.
Elite swimming races are often decided by hundredths of a second. This means that even a tweak in an athlete’s technique can have an impact on their performance and placing.
In addition to the video feedback available to athletes, coaches and researchers, the starting blocks and walls are instrumented. This means that data including force and timing of swimmers off the blocks is available, as well as force, direction and timing of turns and backstroke starts. This data enables adjustments in technique facilitating splitsecond improvements in performance. On top of all this, proposed changes to a swimmer’s technique can be tested using computer fluid dynamics. Mathematicians from the CSIRO and AIS researchers are combining motion capture data with full body laser scans of swimmers to create 3-D computer models of swimmers whose technique can be observed as they swim in virtual water. This technology will help scientist to optimise a swimmer’s stroke and to assess the effectiveness of any changes before retraining parts of the swimmer’s style.