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Training with buzzers could boost times - study

2016-08-12 13:04
Swimmers plummeting the swimming pool (Getty Images)

Sydney - Swimmers who train with buzzers rather than their coach's voice could shave milliseconds off their times, a critical difference at the elite level, an Australian researcher has found.

While swimmers at competitions dive off platforms at the sound of a starting buzzer, many still train using their coach's voice, University of Sydney researcher Chris Papic said.

But in a trial involving top Australian swimmers, Papic found that when drilled with starting buzzers, swimmers could cut an average of 0.012 seconds off their times - which at elite level could be enough to mean the difference between a gold or silver medal.

"Even at the elite level, most swimmers aren't training with the buzzer," Papic said on Friday.

"A hundredth of a second can make a difference... definitely more so in the short-distance events."

For his research, Papic created a "force plate" that measures the reaction times of swimmers.

He split the elite teen swimmers, which included some who took part in Olympic trials, into two groups with one team training with a starting buzzer and another continuing to start their swim when their coaches said "ready, go".

"We had them doing regular diving training like they usually would and all we changed was the stimulus they were reacting to," Papic said.

"In the end when we did our testing... the group without the buzzer sound had slightly slower reaction times, while the group with the buzzer sound went slightly faster.

"A lot of it comes down to... your brain gets used to a certain frequency of sound and processes it a lot faster if it's used to that specific sound and then the action with that sound."

Papic said he was hopeful his research would encourage coaches to improve training regimes.

Australian swimmers are among the best in the world, with the Rio Olympics team so far winning three golds, three silvers and two bronzes in the pool.

Read more on:    swimming
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