Computer Animation and Visualization of Olympic Swimmers
A logical extension of current conventional videographic analysis of swimming is threedimensional (3D) computer animation and visualization. Recent advances in computer graphics now make it possible construct realistic, 3D animated computer models of swimmers, which can then be used for a detailed analysis of swimming technique by coaches and athletes. This kind of approach has been used in a variety of domains including biomechanics to analyze human gait.
Such an approach would be able to answer questions that 2D video or live action cannot answer. For example, precisely how is the motion of one swimmer different from another? How do the various body parts move during a stroke? 3D animations could also become an invaluable tool for training athletes. Simple models of fluid forces could also be included into these animated model and used for rapid assessment of various strokes. Finally, 3D animations can also provide body motion data that can be fed into the CFD analysis described above. Preliminary proof-of-concept work in this direction has already been done by the group using body-scan and videographic data provided by USA Swimming, and adjacent figure shows a multi-exposure view of a 3D computer model captured from video of a real swimmer executing a dolphin kick. This model can be made to move precisely like the athlete in question. The model can then be measured and visualized to give a variety of information about the swimmer and this would be difficult to do using conventional video analysis. For instance, the red line in the figure traces the motion of the toe and the animation can also be viewed from any direction as shown in the lower figures in order to examine in detail, the various stages in the stroke. Currently, several swimming motions such as backstroke are being added to the motion library, and the visualization application has several tools for comparison and analysis of different styles of swimming motion.