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Make the most of your investment in video swim analysis.
A video swim analysis is a valuable tool for improving your stroke—it can showcase flaws in technique that may be holding back your speed and efficiency. Unfortunately, not all athletes have access to experts familiar with the unique needs of a triathlon swimmer, but there are some triathlon coaches who have started to provide remote analysis using video technology.
With a price tag that can vary from $50 to more than $400, some athletes may feel leery about dropping a hefty sum on a virtual analysis. Justin Trolle, a USAT Level 3 coach and founder of Vanguard Endurance, offers the following tips to make sure you get the most bang for your buck:
Stay away from crowdsourcing.
It may seem like an economical solution, but don’t post your video on YouTube and let everyone give you feedback. “YouTube is good for gaining information,” says Trolle, “but only if you know how to sort the good information from the bad.”
Choose the right expert.
A swim coach can be a good expert, but Trolle suggests searching under more specific criteria: “Look for someone with years of open-water race-based experience. More importantly, look for a strong background in biomechanics.”
Keep it simple.
Coaches may offer a lot of bells and whistles in a swim analysis package, many of which are unnecessary. Before hiring an expert, be clear on what you need. “Traditionally, what you want to do is to look for limiters in your stroke. These can be in the form of weaknesses in stroke mechanics and efficiency, or areas that could lead to injury.”
Time it right.
Don’t schedule an analysis because of pre-race second-guessing, since significantly changing your stroke in the weeks before race day could lead to injury. Instead, Trolle suggests getting an analysis in the off-season, when training loads are lower and you can spend more time reinforcing good swimming form.
To get the most thorough analysis, Trolle suggests recruiting a friend to take video from multiple angles using an underwater video camera like a GoPro. The best positions:
- An underwater front view as the swimmer moves toward the camera
- An underwater moving side view from the fingers to the toes, following the swimmer as she swims
- An above-the-water view in a side-on position, following the swimmer
“From these positions, we can analyze all the major form issues as well as look for anything that could potentially lead to an injury,” Trolle says.