Swim club dives into technology

Coach David Pursley and swimmer Cole Morgan review technique on the iPad and playback screen.

Stingray Swim Club has taken an innovative approach to enhancing swimmers’ skill and growing the club by integrating technology into its training regimes.

Technology now allows everything from instant replays for technical officials, to live streaming events, to allowing coaches and athletes to closely examine every millisecond of an action that takes only seconds to complete.

Stingray Swim Club swimmer Ali Jackson reviews the playback screen with coach David Pursley.
Stingray Swim Club swimmer Ali Jackson reviews the playback screen with coach David Pursley.

For swimmers, however, underwater cameras are difficult to afford and many teams are not able to invest in the necessary technology – but swimmers at Stingray Swim Club are benefitting from an investment in their swimming development made by Cayman Islands Boat Rentals, which donated all the filming equipment needed, including a mobile video cart, TV, underwater camera and DVR.

Stingray’s head coach David Pursley, who trained for a short time with coach Ian Armiger (Cayman’s first technical director) in the English swim program at Loughborough University, recognizes the importance of video technology in helping swimmers to perfect their technique. (Stingray swimmer Alex McCallum, and former Stingray Swimmer Lara Butler currently attend university at Loughborough and are part of the swim program there.)

While at Loughborough, Pursley met Jonty Skinner, British swimming’s head technical analyst at the time. Skinner introduced the concept of using filming as part of daily swim training for technical development, allowing swimmers to see flaws – no matter how small – and work on correcting them immediately.

Pursley said, “Filming in swimming is an absolutely essential part of technical development.

In a sport where a single movement is practiced for millions of repetitions, technical flaws can be deeply ingrained, quickly becoming an unnoticed part of a swimmer’s stroke. For athletes to make adjustments and changes to their technique they must first see what the problem is.

“After repeating a movement pattern millions of times, it becomes very difficult to find the problem without a different perspective and actually seeing what they are doing provides them with that perspective.”

The DVR and underwater camera allow the swimmers to see their stroke patterns in slow motion, frame by frame, from any angle. From the coach’s perspective, the depth of a kick or a pull and the angle of the arm or leg underwater is nearly impossible for him/her to see from above and not something an athlete can watch themselves do as they swim. The underwater angle helps to fine tune and analyze even the smallest of details, and slowing down the video helps to be sure nothing goes unnoticed, the swim club said in a press release.

“ … Bringing technology to the pool deck and allowing our coaches to literally show our swimmers what they are doing and how they can improve was [an opportunity] which we were happy to provide,” CJ Moore, managing director of Cayman Islands Boat Rentals, said in a press release. “These athletes swim over 18 hours a week. If they are doing one little thing wrong for those 18 hours, week-in week-out, it gets harder and harder for them to adjust their technique, and in swimming one tiny adjustment can be the difference between qualifying for a meet or not qualifying. When I understood this, sponsoring the equipment made 100 percent sense to me.”