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Intel hails data analytics-powered GB Olympics swimming success

Intel has claimed its part in the GB swimming team’s Olympics success, with the analysis of ‘data pools’ and the use of its servers and workstations

British swimmers have taken their best-ever haul of medals at the Olympics in Tokyo, thanks, in part, to semiconductor chip-maker Intel.

Team GB and British Swimming have said they have been using Intel technology and data analytics to improve performance.

On Sunday 1 August, Team GB achieved their best-ever Olympic swimming performance, winning eight medals – four gold, three silver and one bronze.

Intel UK has released a video showcasing how Team GB and British Swimming used data analytics to improve performance.

British Swimming uses Intel Xeon Edge servers and Intel Xeon Mobile Workstations to deliver a data-led approach to training, said the supplier.

Mel Marshall, national lead coach for British Swimming, said: “Bringing up performance data in real time is everything. That instant feedback allows athletes to make instant adjustments.

“Ultimately, to get the optimal performance, you need to have the optimal understanding of the athlete. That’s where Intel technology, data, coaching and innovation all comes in.  If that can match the level of the athlete, then the athlete can create a new landscape and go on to do something wonderful.”

So, having access to immediate video analysis poolside or remotely, has given British swimmers such as Luke Greenbank the opportunity to make instant adjustments to their technique while tracking progress in real time.

The swimming team’s success has also seen Scottish swimmer Duncan Scott become the most decorated British Olympian at a single Games after winning silver in the men’s 4x100m medley relay.

Read more about analytics in sports

Data analytics usage is ubiquitous in sport, including football, rugby (Union and League), tennis, swimming and athletics.

In 2014, SAP claimed that its analytics had helped Germany win the Fifa World Cup. And the unlikely winners of the 2016 English football Premier League, Leicester City, had data analysis, in part, to thank.

Success in sport is about fine margins, and in the world of elite swimming, the smallest differences in performance can win or lose a race. Every millisecond, every stroke and every turn matters – small performance details hidden within gigabytes of training performance.

A cluster of full HD video cameras are at the centre of British Swimming’s data-gathering system. This also incorporates pool-integrated pressure sensors, wearable velocimeters, as well as a proprietary starting block that can measure 1,000 data points per second.

Using the data from the starting block sensor enables Team GB to look at the force generated by the swimmer, or how they direct that force, said Intel. From this data, training regimes can be adapted to give athletes an advantage in sprint events.

And through analysis of sensor data and video footage, the coaching team can drill down into the different layers of each swimmer’s performance and create a “data story” with evidence that can be shared with the coaches and athletes.

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