Design of Swimmers' Starting Block Jump Assessment Device

Photo of Jared Brunson, Allison Guilfoil, Stephen Perales, and Andrew Weldon Students: Jared Brunson, Allison Guilfoil, Stephen Perales, and Andrew Weldon

Sponsor: National Instruments

Date: Spring 2012

Requirements:
The product must withstand the normal and shear forces the swimmer exerts on the platform. The system should also operate at a sampling frequency of at least 30 Hz. The device must be water resistant, cost efficient, and fit within current platform dimensions.

Problem:
A swimmer's jump off the starting block is crucial to his or her performance in a race. The normal and shear forces exerted by a swimmer, in addition to the angle and speed of entry into the water, are critical parameters in determining the effectiveness of a swimmer's jump. The goal of this project was to design a device that assists coaches and swimmers with starting block data analysis in order to maximize performance.

Solution:
The team utilized Wii Balance Boards, paired with LabVIEW, to acquire both shear and normal forces. A smart camera determines the swimmer's angle and speed of entry into the water. The team tested the prototype with the Texas Club swimmers to gather initial jump data. As a swimmer jumps off the starting block, the LabVIEW program outputs the shear and normal forces of each foot, along with his or her angle and speed of entry into the water. Possible improvements to the device include slimming down the overall profile of the assembly and increasing its resistance to water.

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