Triathlete and coach Sam Anderson gave INCUS | NOVA a try in the pool and was surprised by how quickly the data allowed her to make positive changes to her swim stroke.
As a Level 3 British Triathlon coach , Sport and Exercise Science graduate and founder of Tri-Energy Sam is very used to watching athletes, helping them improve and develop their technique. So how did she find an afternoon in the pool using INCUS under the watchful eye of Liam Walton, our bio-mechanist and Validation Team Manager.
Improve your swim technique
“ Triathlon as a sport is sometimes guilty of over complicating training. As a coach and as an athlete I try to focus on the elements that will make a real difference and keep it simple,” says Sam. At INCUS we agree completely with these values. Having loads of data at your finger-tips means nothing unless you act on the data, which is why simple, actionable analytics has always been at the heart of what we do.
For Sam it was one of her first times in the water with the NOVA having bought it but with little time to try it out, “the first thing I noticed using the NOVA was how easy it is to forget it is there! The swim vest fits well and once I was into the flow of what I was doing it was easy to forget that I was being ‘watched’ by the NOVA.” This is one of the advantages of continuous data recording in the pool over say video capture or under-water photography which can make you feel self-conscious or work extra hard to produce your perfect stroke.
Forgetting you are being monitored allows you to see what is really happening, your stroke can change when swimming at different paces, when you become fatigued or stop focusing on it. Using INCUS | NOVA means you can keep an eye on technique throughout your session.
“Sami had bought the NOVA device but hadn’t had much chance to use it,” Liam explains, “ we were starting from scratch with her first look at her swim data which was a great opportunity for us.” For coaches and athletes wanting to learn more Liam offers 1-2-1 sessions to help understand how to get the most from INCUS “When I have someone in for a trial we always start with a 200m set as a base line. It’s enough data to show a pattern but quick to upload and analyse on the poolside” says Liam outlining the methods.
“ From this first set I could see that Sami was very symmetrical but that her efficiency was low. I simply asked her to pull a bit harder on her next set. Just by asking that we saw an increase in efficiency but also a slight increase in asymmetry, with Sam slightly more efficient on her left strokes in this effort,” Liam explains.
“When she did her second 200m I noticed her hand entry could be a little better. Her hands were coming across to her opposite shoulder and there was a slight lag between entry and propulsion. I asked her to focus on straightening out her hand entry and starting her catch quicker.”
After just 3 x 200m sets, there is a visible difference in Sam’s efficiency!
“ Sam was already wonderfully symmetrical but with the data and a few insights she reached almost perfect efficiency,” Liam explained, “we didn’t need to focus on symmetry, but increasing her pull and moving her hand entry straightened out the difference in her roll.” Seeing such impressive improvements quickly is testament to what the data from the INCUS | NOVA can achieve.
“ I could see from the poolside the problem with her hand entry but without INCUS there would be no means of quantifying it or assessing if it had achieved what we hoped it would. We wouldn’t be able to say it had improved her efficiency or by how much” Liam explains, “It’s important to understand we didn’t ask her to change her pace, all three reps were the same pace. The increase in efficiency was real, not just because she swam faster.”
For Sam it was exciting to discover new things about her swim technique that she can now focus on in future sessions, “pitch and roll aren’t words in the current coaching conversation but seeing the data from the INCUS I think that is going to change. Like everything in life, ‘ you don’t know, what you don’t know’ but now we can get feedback on our body position in the water throughout a training session, I think Pitch and Roll will very much become a focus for athletes looking to get faster.”
Get faster - faster, with INCUS
With a few coaching prompts and a little bit more awareness Sam had been able to improve her stroke and speed in just one session, “the graphs help show you the impact of the changes you make to your technique. Looking at it immediately means you can start to understand what it feels like in the water when you are doing it right.”
Taking feel and guess work out of your technique training and having the cold hard data in front of you helps to focus your progress, “sometimes when you are thinking about technique you can feel slow even though you are going faster,” says Sam. It’s important for both the athlete and coach to see the data, “ as a coach athletes like to challenge you, they need to have confidence and belief that what you are asking them to do will work. Data as evidence is important and when an athlete can see for themselves the advice is working it helps to build up trust.”
We all learn in lots of different ways and Sam’s coaching style is very intuitive of and sympathetic to different styles, “ having the data is great, you can show people graphs, it gives you a common language to talk about what is going in the water and it can help athletes see and feel when they get it right.”
Data also takes coach and athlete on a journey together, “ with Liam looking at my data it felt more collaborative, as if we were exploring and discovering new techniques together. One of us might say ‘try this and see what happens’ and straightaway there is the data to back It up so we could quickly hone in on the details that are making the difference.”
This ability to really focus is yet another advantage of using INCUS: “a coach stood on poolside can only spot the big changes in your stroke but INCUS can take it to the next level” Sam is excited to note, “and all those small changes add up to a better swim performance.”
Transform your swim stroke
Sam has worked with complete beginners through to Age Group Medallists and Ironman Competitors. If you would like to find out how she can help you perform better and develop your technique using INCUS visit tri-energy.
To start your journey to becoming a better swimmer visit the INCUS store – or check out how Pro-Triathlete Ruth Astle used INCUS to transform her swim.