FINA is delighted to welcome INSCYD as Event Partner for the 5th FINA World Aquatics Convention.
We caught up with INSCYD Head of Human Performance, Sebastian Weber, who shared his insight into sport performance analysis.
Tell us about INSCYD and its ground-breaking work.
The INSCYD software enables coaches and scientists to analyse athlete performance more accurately and more detailed than ever before. It obtains physiological data – e.g. maximum aerobic and anaerobic power, energy cost at given speeds, body composition, energy contribution from aerobic vs. anaerobic metabolism and buffering capacity – from simple in-pool tests, to create a ‘physiological avatar’ of the athlete.
How up-to-date is Aquatics is its use of new technologies and sports science?
At the highest level, all sports use the best tools and technologies. However, at the lower level, swimming is probably slightly behind other sports such as cycling which uses power meters, GPS, trackers, etc.
When it comes to sports science and physical analysis, how do a swimmer’s needs differ from athletes in other sports?
Swimming benefits from precise scientific analysis more than sports like cycling or running, because it takes place in a much more controlled environment.
What is the biggest benefit to coaches from the development of sports science and physiological analysis?
I believe the biggest benefit for coaches is the ability to monitor all aspects of their athletes’ performance. INSCYD enhances every training schedule by providing scientific foundation and precise predictability of physiological demands for any swim race.
What is the first test/analysis you look for in a swimmer and why?
The primary assessment is based on a series of tests of varying distance and intensity. Before and after each effort, lactate concentration is measured. The beauty of testing with INSCYD is there is no fixed protocol for tests: the only requirement is having a broad variety of different durations and lactate values. Therefore many coaches substitute dedicated testing sessions by simply using training sessions or race simulations in training.
The data then gets processed using sophisticated, genetic algorithms from which coaches receive important metrics about their swimmers. These include the maximum aerobic and maximum glycolytic power of a swimmer, production and clearance rate of lactate, and precise measurements of anaerobic and aerobic energy contribution.
What are the biggest challenges in your work with swimmers and how to do you address them?
One of the biggest challenges is obtaining the energy cost (economy) of swimming. Coaches know that good technique is key to performance. INSCYD has overcome the difficulty of measuring gas exchange in a swimmer by combining the use of a affordable and ultra-mobile VO2 analyser with a method called reverse extrapolation.
Measuring VO2 in swimmers is only half the story: especially in swimming, a significant part of an athlete’s energy is derived from anaerobic metabolism. INSCYD captures both aerobic and anaerobic energy consumption; its precise and reliable methodology is widely recognised. For example, it is used by the world-renowned Stanford University (US) to capture energy costs in running in their research projects.
How do you feel INSCYD can support National Swimming Federations at an elite level?
First, by providing a granular analysis of the physiological performance of an athlete through highly important metrics which define performance.
Furthermore, INSCYD enables scientists and coaches to understand how performance metrics interact and contribute to the total performance of an athlete at varying distances. They can virtually “play around”, manipulating physiological metrics of their athlete, to understand the performance outcome. For example: altering glycolytic power to calculate the effects on their finishing time in a 100m freestyle race.
INSCYD was designed to work with large organisations, which have the capacity to store and share this data. It is also possible to share selected data with other coaches and manage an unlimited number of coworkers within one organisation.
I have been ‘on the ground’ myself, testing and coaching athletes at camps and races up to the World Championships and Olympic Games. Data is only as good as one can obtain and execute on it, and this is where INSCYD delivers: the analyses and tests can be carried out anywhere, anytime. Coaches can obtain data during routine training – getting high-quality performance metrics without interruption!
What do you think the future holds for sport science and physiological analysis in swimming?
The possibilities are huge! Physiological data could be morphed with data from trackers, video systems and force measurements, for example by combining energy cost with bio-mechanical analysis. Analysis of the physiology of a swimmer could be improved by tracking data (such as speed, turn and gliding times) from training and racing.
We have already carried out beta projects like these in several other sports – with great success.
INSCYD are presenting on Saturday 8 December at the FINA Swimming Coaches Golden Clinic and their booth is located in the Exhibition Hall.
Don’t miss out on the year’s biggest Aquatics event. Register today at https://worldaquaticsconvention.com/register-now/