Swimming Sonification


In swimming sport, the proper perception of moving water masses is a key factor. We designed an embedded system for the acquisition of values of hydrodynamic pressure on the swimmer’s hands and the use interactive sonification, the real-time representation of the data as non-speech sound. Different from other swimming sonifications which either convey the cause (i.e. they sonify the body posture or the forces) or the effect (i.e. the resulting instantaneous speed), our approach supports the perception of intermediate processes which we suggest to be crucial for swimmers to be aware of in order to swim smarter rather than harder, or in other words: more effective. Our first prototype was carried along the swimmer in the pool using a fishing rod, using a laptop for sonification. Our second prototype system is self-contained, battery powered and able to work continuously for over eight hours, thus, representing a viable solution for daily usage in swimmers training. Preliminary results from in-pool experiments with both novel and experienced swimmers demonstrate the high acceptability of this technology and its promising future evolution and usage possibilities. Elite swimmers and coaches tested our system and dicussed with us the potential for training and practice. We believe that ultimately the longitudinal application can enhance and refine the swimmers’ feel-of-water. As the sonification are shared between coach and swimmer, it can furthermore enable novel training practices, e.g. enabling instructions such as ‘now try to modify your hand actions so that the pitch increases faster and remains constant rightafter’.

Involved People