Measuring for success


Final presentation project “status monitoring of top athletes”

On October 5, the final presentation of the NWO / STW subsidized project 'Status Monitoring of Top Athletes' was held in the swimming pool of the Institute for Sport Studies in Groningen. The project is part of the Sport Research Program.

In 2014, a number of parties have gathered hands to improve swimming performance by measuring critical parameters. On the initiative of Martin Truijens (former head coach of the NTC Amsterdam and nowadays principal coach of the NTC Copenhagen, Denmark) and Sander Ganzevles (PhD student and nowadays German swimming coach in Germany) on behalf of the Royal Swimming Federation (KNZB) the companies Lode B.V. (Groningen, and 2M engineering worked hard together to achieve this dream. The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Behavioral and Movement Sciences, as well as the Eindhoven University of Technology are the scientific institutions involved in the project. They provided the scientific protocols that ensure the level and reliability of established and acquired knowledge. The project was funded financially by NWO / STW.

The project ‘Status monitoring of top athletes’

The performance density in sport has increased significantly over recent decades. This calls for increasing investments to ultimately overcome smaller differences in performance. A thorough training program in which applications and innovations of knowledge and technology play a role is crucial. The basis for training is the principle of supercompensation. How repeated and different training stimuli affect the various supercompensation curves is quite unknown. The sports practice therefore needs test protocols that can monitor the athletes status objectively.

This allows dose-response relations to be determined and work and rest can be matched to each other. The purpose of this project is to provide resources and methods that provide clarity in the optimal alignment of training stimuli and recovery to reach maximum performance. 

Swimming coaches are often along the pool during training and should guide several swimmers at the same time to improve swimming performance. The dream was to develop a tool that collects objective data from the training of each individual swimmer to monitor the status and guide the swimmer to success.

The trainers defined what information a coach needed for this, creating a challenge for the companies: develop a device with accompanying software to use technology in a smart and efficient way in sports practice and that swimmers can easily carry on the body during the training at the same time. The project became even more challenging: how can a good heart rate be measured in the swimming pool, how can a device recognize real-time where a swimmer is in the water: the type of stroke, stroke rate, run time and does this information eventually reach the coach?

A successful collaboration arose, with Sander Ganzevles engaged in the algorithms for stroke recognition. 2M has developed the software in which the algorithms have been implemented and that shows the stroke type in real time. Lode was responsible for the development of the hardware.

After extensive testing in several swimming pools and with various swimmers, we are proud to be able to present the final result: the SPorts Activity Tracker.

The SPAT consists of a number of sensors in a small jacket. The device is carried on the back during training. Per swimmer is looked at the type of stroke, the number ofstrokes per lane and the run time. The accelerometer, ECG measurement, light, magnetoscope, gyroscope and event button (pressed at a special event) provide additional information.

With the presentation of this product it is now available for Dutch top swimming and later for swimming teams worldwide. We expect that it will contribute to sharpening many world records in the future.