Saturday, November 21, 2009

Changing the Face of Swimming Stroke Technique Analysis

Last weekend I had the pleasure of working with some great swimmers and coaches from nearby Pennsylvania. On Saturday, we had a great video/technique session with swimmers from Wyoming Valley West High School, Hazelton High School, and Abington Heights High School. The session was sponsored by Wyoming Valley West and Coach Frank Tribendis. On Sunday, we worked with two swimmers from the Diplomat Swim Club that trains at Franklin and Marshall College, and Coach Jim Yeingst. It was a really fun and thoughtful weekend of learning about how stroke technique can improve performance in conjunction with the instantaneous feedback derived from using our Velocity Meter/Video Telemetry Technology.

In basic terms, and in a very short period of time we were able to show all of these swimmers some important concepts about swimming technique. First and foremost, the Velocity Meter Telemetry clearly demonstrated that even swimmers of equal ability have very different technique patterns, and to optimize, each need very individualized coaching methods. We were also able to identify after a few trials the optimal stroke rate these swimmers should be using to attain the best speed, for their stroke and events. In almost every case we found the swimmers used a stroke rate lower than was optimal. Armed with this new information, their coaches can now design workouts to address and enhance these findings.

Probably the most important finding of the weekend we were able to measure, was after the feet lose contact with the wall. Many swimmers today are taught to stay underwater, but we demonstrated that extended time underwater typically has them breaking out at speeds far below what they can swim on top. Right on the pool deck, we were able to define the optimal distance where their regular swimming speed and the speed generated from their underwater techniques from the wall intersect. While that optimal distance was different for each person, it was far shorter from where the swimmers initially tested, when asked to perform their typical technique. We were able to give the coaches objective information about the time or distance from the wall for each person for use at practice and meets.

Our goal is to continue to spread the word of truth about swimming technique, using the most sensitive swimming technique technology in the world today. If you want to join the growing army of forward thinking swimmers and coaches, contact us, because we promise, you will never look at your swimming the same way ever again.

Happy Holidays


Friday, October 30, 2009

Velocity Meter/Video Swimming Technique Telemetry

In today’s world, telemetry is used in many business and sports applications to objectively measure performance.  For example, in auto racing, advances in telemetry are now widely used by crew chiefs to fine tune the handling or performance of a car using devices that output objective performance data.  Gone are the days where the crew chief puts his head under the roof of the car, to improve engine performance by simply listening to the sound of the engine.  

One sport that has lagged behind some of these advances has been competitive swimming, for obvious reasons.  Most of the real action occurs underwater, and until recently, equipment needed for underwater observation was not easy to use or convenient to acquire. Even from the side of the pool deck, many subtleties of the sport are not readily apparent to the observer.  Underwater video has dramatically revealed that even the technique of how one touches the wall, can mean the difference in winning Olympic gold.  Really only recently with web sites like YouTube, have main stream swimmers and coaches been able to view swimming from this new perspective.  But how many times can you look at another persons technique, and be confident you are able to replicate that in practice?  The real question is what does your technique look like, and what effective changes will really equate to improvement?  There are as many theories about that subject as video clips found on the web.  View any swimming discussion group and you know what I mean.

However, some of that has now changed, and access to crystal clear underwater images can only fix obvious flaws, because the subtle changes in velocity associated with changes in stroke technique is still somewhat subjective.  A device called a “Velocity Meter” can now be integrated and synchronized with underwater video, that adds a new layer of truth about swimming technique.  I have been personally using such a device for more than 20 years, and have thousands of files on individuals of every level and age.  And the truth, because of the sensitivity of the velocity telemetry, creates a transparent picture of swimming technique. Now portions of technique that accelerate or decelerate the body are now more clearly defined.  No matter what your level, this velocity telemetry (shown above with the red line) clearly point the way for improvement, because it is very specific to each individual.  Swimmers and coaches can now go to practice armed with the same information on what parts of a stroke need attention, and an effective training plan can be created.  Repeated testing over time also reveals if real change in technique in a positive manner is being accomplished.

The good news is this Velocity Meter/Video telemetry is now available to teams or individuals, and is reasonably priced. Since the Rome World Championships, a number of world ranked swimmers and two elite training centers have had this testing conducted, and are incorporating the findings into their training program.  More specific information about this telemetry and arrangements can be found at the following web address.