Quantifying competitive swim training using accelerometer-based activity monitors

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Recent advances in miniaturized waterproof accelerometers have allowed their use as a tool in examining swim stroke characteristics (Ohgi et al. JPSE Int J 45:960–966, 2002; Sports Eng 6:113–123, 2003). A better use for this technology, however, might be to quantify characteristics of competitive swim training. The purpose of this study was thus to examine commercial accelerometers’ ability to track and quantify swim training variables common to all swim training programs: speed and distance. Swimmers (n = 43) were fitted with two accelerometer monitors on their right wrist and ankle. From this output, regression analyses were performed as a means to describe swim distance and speed. Ten additional swimmers (experimental group, n = 10) were then utilized to cross validate these equations as being useful to predict swim distance and speed. The results demonstrated a positive, significant relationship between activity counts and actual swim distance (r = 0.90, p < 0.05), actual swim speed (r = 0.80; p < 0.05), and cross validation confirmed the accuracy of the prediction equations. The findings of the present study suggest that commercial accelerometer-based activity monitors have the ability to quantify important characteristics of competitive swim training.