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Seemingly simple gesture, leads to great swimming pleasure

de Tongelreep

Seemingly simple gesture, leads to great swimming pleasure

It seems very simple, but it is a world of difference to swimmer Liesette Bruinsma. She is blind. During training the swimmers swim at start times. For example, ten times in a row 100 metres. "Then the assignment can be to leave every minute and a half", Alja Huibers, embedded scientist at the InnoSportLab de Tongelreep, says. Alja takes care of the measurements to improve the swimmers of the paralympic team. Liesette is one of those swimmers.

Most swimmers use the clock to see when they need to leave for the next hundred metres. For Liesette there must always be someone who passes on her starting times each time with a stopwatch, explains Alja. This trainer then has more difficulty to pay attention to other swimmers. "And you just want her to be able to do her exercises independently". 

It had to be possible to do things differently, according to trainer and Alja. Five years ago, Alja used a metronome for her graduation thesis to impose the different phases of the breaststroke. "We looked at the relative time of the arm and leg strike compared to the entire stroke cycle. With the aim of investigating which ratio was the most optimal. We saw that the metronome was effective for swimming a different phasing. With squeaks, swimmers knew when to use the arm and leg stroke. We had programmed these sound files with different phases and frequencies in Matlab. We have now used that file and adapted it for Liesette's starting times".

Alja's colleague Paul Koster rewrote the programme, 'because he is more familiar with that at the moment'. Liesette bought a bluetooth sound box and now she can swim off her training independently. And the trainer hears the beeps as well, which immediately gives him feedback about whether or not she makes the times. 

"Programming technically it is not much work. And it was practically very feasible. For us it seems very small, but for her it is of great value".

Liesette has been swimming with it since last month. And still with great satisfaction, her independence has increased enormously, she says, "and the accessibility of swimming has improved".

Unique Swimming is a project that improves the accessibility of swimming for people with disabilities. The sound system is part of this. This project is made possible by:

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