Train Smarter to Break National Records

Swimming, as a professional sport, is one of the last to get on board with technology-driven data collection and analysis for performance improvement. Sports like football, golf, and running have long been using technology to tweak performance for an edge on the competition, so why not swimming? Because it’s hard, that’s why!

A component of success with anything new, including new technologies, is commitment, trust, and making it part of your routine. TritonWear very much fits this mould, and here is a review of one Norwegian team who saw unprecedented success with this combination of a new technology, commitment, hard work and trust. Not only did their swimmer gain efficiency, but broke national records through improvements made using TritonWear technology.  

The team is Bergens swim club out of Norway; the coach, Bruno Langlois; the athlete, Ariel Braathen, an up-and-coming breaststroker. Collectively, Bergens made the decision to start using TritonWear with their top performing athletes in December 2015. As they began collecting data, it immediately became easier to identify patterns and irregularities in each of their swimmers. When they applied their insights from the data, the results were very promising – and in the case of Ariel, exceptional.

Coach Bruno gives Ariel a lot of credit for being extremely dedicated both inside and outside the pool, and very engaged in the process of reviewing her own data on the TritonWear app. He said “She is one of the curious swimmers, who challenge us to look at the app and give her feedback.” She doesn’t merely show up at the pool to go through the motions – she is driven to improve by taking ownership of her performance. Ariel is a prime example of an athlete who is a student of the sport. She goes home after practice to review her numbers and make her own discoveries on TritonWear Insights, her online TritonWear profile, often coming to the next practice to share feedback with her coaches, based on the data.

TritonWear data

As using TritonWear became part of the team’s routine, it became second nature to use the units on a daily basis. The more data they collected, the easier it was to identify patterns and irregularities with each swimmer. So it’s no surprise that when Ariel and her coaches began to analyze her metrics, specifically her strokes and times, they were able to quickly identify inconsistencies within her performance. The visual graphs on the TritonWear Train app on deck made it easy to recognize a spike where she was losing speed while increasing her stroke count and splits. What was more interesting was TritonWear Insightsvery clearly showed this weakness as a trend over time. Coaches discovered her third 50 in 200 breaststroke, and third 25 in the 100, were weaker than the others – both her stroke count and time were increasing in this leg of each race.

It was time to look deeper in training, to use the TritonWear units to dig into the data. They were able to determine the issue wasn’t turn times, or inefficient pullouts, the data clearly showed these remaining consistent. It became clear in tracking her distance per stroke and stroke index (or efficiency), her third 50 or 25 were less efficient, costing her valuable energy on the second half of her races.

This was a breakthrough! They had been able to pinpoint exactly where the issue was, and could address the root instead of the whole race. They were no longer just trying to get her to go faster overall, they were correcting a specific behaviour at a precise point in her races, which would ultimately improve her overall performance. They began to train smarter, instead of harder.

Together, Ariel and her coaches focused on lengthening her stroke and catching more water, so she could avoid slipping and improve her efficiency. As they continued focusing on these metrics in training, the app revealed Ariel was gradually taking fewer strokes with greater efficiency, and her split was steadily improving.

The first opportunity to test all of the stroke and strategy adjustments they had been implementing in training was at the short course Norwegian Senior National Championships in March of 2016, and it turned out to be a massive success. Their focus, determination and hard work had paid off. She won all of her breaststroke events, and Bruno was pleased to “see a difference between her and the other competitors on the third part of her races, which led to the first place [finish].”

Bruno and Ariel, with confidence boosted, jumped straight into long course season with the Stockholm Open two weeks later. The goal being to translate her improvements in efficiency on the third part of her races from short course to long course. Once again, Ariel exceeded expectations; not only claiming gold in the 100-meter breaststroke, but also breaking the junior national record, becoming the first junior swimmer to break the 1:10 barrier. This was a stunning achievement. Thanks to her incredible performance, she secured a spot on Norway's squad heading to the European Championships in London in mid-May.

While most of the credit goes to Ariel and her coaches for remaining focused, and putting in the hard work to adjust her behaviour, Bruno asserts “TritonWear definitely played a role in her success.” Using the app, they were able to pinpoint her specific weaknesses, and take tangible action to improve her overall performance. They were able to focus on the area where smart improvements could be made, to achieve ultimate success. The work they did in training ultimately led her to gold and a junior national record.

Bruno remarks using TritonWear has made all of his swimmers (Ariel included) more engaged in their training, and more aware of the process. He describes the technology as “an extra pair of eyes for each swimmer,” constantly collecting data they can evaluate to adjust each swimmer’s training to address their specific needs, intelligently improving performance. His swimmers use TritonWear every day, and if Ariel's performances are any indication, the data-driven improvements will continue to pay off. The sky's the limit for Ariel Braathen and Bergens Swim Club, and it can be for you too! Click here to learn more; book a demo while your there, to see first hand how we can help your team.