Swim Ireland and NUI Galway to pioneer analysis system for elite swimmers

27 May 2013

NUI Galway PhD student Robert Mooney and NUI Galway student and sports scholarship athlete Kevin McGlade. Photo by Aengus McMahon

Swim Ireland is embarking on a new research project with researchers at NUI Galway to develop a high-performance analysis system for competitive swimming. Deploying kinematic sensing technology, the aim of the new system will be to give performance information in real-time to both a swimmer and his or her coach.

The technology is currently in test mode and is the brainchild of Robert Mooney, a PhD student at NUI Galway, who is a former Swim Ireland employee.

Swim Ireland and the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme are providing funding for the research.

The development team at NUI Galway will be led by Prof Gearóid Ó Laighin from the electrical and electronic engineering discipline at the university. The goal is to develop a prototype system by early 2014.

The system will be tested on elite Irish swimmers to measure, record and track their technical improvements during training.

Athletes who will undergo testing will include swimmers based at the new Swim Ireland Connacht Performance Centre, which is based at the Kingfisher facility on the NUI Galway campus.

Mooney said that while coaches can observe where swimmers need to make improvements, having hard evidence to back this up is key.

“We want to facilitate a new approach to swimming coaching, allowing for improved analysis of stroke mechanics, race performance and energy expenditure, as well as real-time feedback to the swimmer,” he said.

Ó Laighin said the researchers will be deploying micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology along with algorithms to pioneer the system.

Peter Banks, performance director with Swim Ireland, said this type of technology is very exciting for Irish swimming to be involved with.

“The project gives our coaches and swimmers an opportunity to learn more about how athletes perform in the training pool and helps us make more informed decisions around their training programmes,” he added.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic