by Hamish Barwick

Future Olympic Australian swimmers get 3D imaging performance boost

Jul 11, 20123 mins
Technology Industry

Data collected from a University of Western Australia (WA) research project which uses the latest 3D imaging and biomechanical techniques to quantify swimmers’ movement patterns will be used to help Australian swimmers prepare for future Olympic Games.

While the 3D imaging data, which will be analysed by sporting body, Swimming Australia, won’t be available for the London Olympics this year, the national swimming body plans to use it in 2016 to help swimmers prepare for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

University of WA School of Sport Science Biomechanics associate professor, Jacqueline Alderson, told CIO Australia that the development phase of the project included the creation of an underwater motion capture system called I3D visual Hull reconstruction.

“This hull is created using multiple 2D views of a swimmer and is then combined with a high resolution laser scan of the same swimmer,” she said. “This data — 3D swimming technique plus surface skin information — is then passed into a computational fluid dynamics model.”

Initial swimming footage and high definition laser scans that will be used to reconstruct each swimmers 3D visual hull was collected in May at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Thirty five elite swimmers took part in the project. Twenty of the swimmers are current Olympians while four are Para Olympians.

The analysis involved a 3D body scan of the swimmers before using 17 cameras, both above and below water, to capture swimmers’ movements.

The three-year project is due to be completed in 18 months’ time. The University of WA was awarded the project as the result of a 2011 Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage funding application.

As Swimming Australia has exclusive rights to the data, there are plans to use it for other events such as the Commonwealth Games and Swimming World Championships.

“I have no doubt that Swimming Australia will use the information to make small [swimming] technique changes,” Alderson said.

“The benefit of the project is that you can simulate technique changes and find out what those improvements might be without changing the swimmer’s stroke.”

Para Olympian swimmers are also set to benefit from the project as University of WA researchers will use computational fluid dynamics modeling to analyse the strokes of Para-Olympians.

“There is potential for the results to be used by the Para-Olympic Committee to assess the classification rating of swimmers based on propulsion and drag benefits as opposed to current broad based approach essentially relating to level of limb loss such as one arm or no legs,” she said.

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