World Aquatics, formally known as FINA, is entering a whole new realm regarding wearable technology as they announced a recent rule change allowing data collection devices during competitions. The rule change went into effect January 1st, 2023, and it is a big step for the competitive swimming world. Wearable technology has advanced drastically over the last decade, now making it possible to get a heap of metrics from tiny sensors that fit on your goggles or even in your racing suit. These metrics include but are not limited to Distance per Stroke, Stroke Rate, Heart Rate, underwater time and swim speed.
Swim tracking during competition
The most important part of the rule change is that the data cannot be shared with the swimmer while they are racing. “The use of technology and automated data collection devices is permissible for the sole purpose of collecting data,” the new rule says. “Automated devices shall not be utilized to transmit data, sounds, or signals to the swimmer and may not be used to aid their speed.” While this limits the power of wearable technology, having post race analytics will be a game changer for competitive swimmers. As seen in almost every other sport, athletes are able to analyze and assess their performance after the fact. Phlex, and other devices, now give more insights to a race than ever before. This technology provides an incredibly accurate and detailed picture of a swimmer’s performance, which can be used to improve technique and performance.
More In-depth Analytics
Race analytics are nothing new, but race analytics from a wearable are. Overall, allowing wearables during competition will increase the importance of analysis, and provide more accurate analyses. Now a swimmer will be able to see exactly what it takes to improve and have the data to accompany their race assessment. “The new rule changes the way we look at the best swim performances moving forward.” said Marcin Cieslak, CEO and Founder of Phlex, “Now you don't just aim at a best time and splits, you can focus on every aspect of a race; swim speed, turns, technique and even heart rate”. With the data provided by these sensors, swimmers can analyze their performance and make adjustments to their technique, change their race strategy based on heart rate, or even compare two different races objectively through data. They can also compare their results with their peers, which can be a great motivator to push themselves to the next level.
How It Affects Coaches
In addition to helping swimmers improve their performance, this technology can also help coaches and trainers better understand the performance of their athletes. Coaches can use the data to adjust training programs, and make sure their swimmers are reaching their goals.
World Aquatics chairperson Craig Hunter also had a few words to say about the new rules. ““I think we’ve just got to be as open-minded as we can… Embracing technology and how that’s going to help to develop our sport can only be a good thing.” Besides adjusting training programs, whether that is intense training or a taper, coaches can use wearables during warm-up and warm-down during the meet. Arguably, swim coaches will benefit more from these wearable devices than swimmers. With Phlex, a coach will be able to understand every swimmer's unique physiology and adapt their preparation to how they respond during a race. This is a key to developing a swimmer to their top potential.
Overall, swim tracking technology is revolutionizing the way competitive swimmers measure and improve their performance. Phlex is extremely excited for the future of swimming, and to be the technology leaders for athletes and coaches during competition. It is an invaluable tool for swimmers and coaches alike, and it has the potential to take the sport of swimming to the next level.