Thursday, March 30, 2006

That why they are good

From the Sydney Morning Herald

No bones about it, this one's a winner

By Louisa Hearn
March 30, 2006 - 5:06PM

Australia's swimming team may have a secret weapon for the next Olympic Games if the CSIRO succeeds in a new research project to give the sport a scientific makeover.

The research centre is working on a mathematically-based technology designed to experiment with the effectiveness of different swimming styles and strokes in the water.

Working in conjunction with Monash University and the Australian Institute of Sport, the CSIRO is redeploying technology designed for animating water for movies and modelling volcanoes and tsunamis.

The project involves building a virtual model of a swimmer using mathematical techniques that can then support independently run simulations of the virtual model swimming in a pool.

To demonstrate the technology, the CSIRO has built a virtual model of a swimmer based on videos taken of famous Russian swimmer Alexander Popov and it plans to adapt this technique to other swimmers.

In the demonstration, a skeleton is fitted onto the red points pictured to allow visualisation of the collection of points as a human body swims through the water, said CSIRO researcher Chris Glendenning.

To capture information from other swimmers the researchers will use a laser body scanner. By combining the skin surface and motion capture information, they believe they will be able to simulate the skin surface for all the different poses a swimmer adopts while in the water.

"By making slight changes to the swimming stroke and by re-running our simulations, we'll be able to find out whether the swimmer goes faster or not," said Mr Glendenning

He said they also hoped to compare swimming styles between different swimmers and even look at the effects of superimposing onto one swimmer techniques used by another.

Researchers would like to see the project reap practical results in time for the next Olympic Games, potentially boosting the performance of the Australian swimmers.

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