As part of its continued research into demonstrating the effect of drag on different suits for world class swinners, Huub Ltd. has developed an in water system which allows quantified gains from wetsuit use to be measured and evidenced, giving amateur and professional athletes alike the edge over other competitors.

Formed in 2011, Huub Ltd - a triathlon wetsuit design and manufacturing specialist - strives to create better products through a combination of research, science and reality. With a wealth of experience gained in the field of endurance sports, spanning over four decades, Huub understand the specialist technical and scientific fields associated with triathlon, including hydrodynamics and swim stroke analysis.

Winner of multiple prestigious awards, Huub have a burgeoning reputation for quality and innovative effective products, which can only be truly brought to fruition through research. And with much wetsuit promotional material literature littered with references to technology that adds performance, with no quantified evidence provided, this is where Huub dived straight in and rose to the challenge!

The challenge
As swimming performance is measured to the nearest 0.01 second, with swimmers in the top 15 separated by only 0.10 seconds, athletes continue to look at factors or legal aids which could improve performance in the water and swimming suits that reduce drag are a prime example of such aids. Although it is now a well known fact that swimming suits can be effective in enhancing performance, it now appears that one specific suit does not have an equal effect on every swimmer. In response to this problem, Huub knew it had to develop a system to undertake individual testing. However, this presented a challenge for Huub, as unlike other activities on land, such as running, the swimmer does not use a fixed point to generate propulsion.

Meeting the need
In order to address this issue, Huub took the decision to develop an advanced underwater application which could be used to measure the swimmer's propelling force on a push-off pad.

By developing a series of fixed push-off points and attaching them to an adjustable rod which is mounted 0.8 m below the water's surface, the swimmer is able to use the system as a ladder, pushing off from each instrument push-off pad.

When it comes to cell technology, it is a well known fact that too much mass between applied force and point of measurement can have a mass-spring system with low 'Eigen' frequency, but if you apply the load sensor at the point where forces are applied, the captured signal is of much better quality. Taking this information into consideration, Huub decided it needed a single point load cell which only registered the applied force irrespective of the point of application and this is why it specified the PW15iA waterproof load cell from HBM, market leader in the field of test and measurement.

The innovative PW15iA digital single point load cell in accuracy class C3 is made of stainless steel and is hermetically welded. Designed to achieve a degree of IP68/IP69K protection and featuring digital inputs and outputs, the new PW15iA load cell provides guaranteed protection against water and is the ideal choice for underwater sporting applications such as the M16.

"As a company with an investment in testing, it was important that we choose the best equipment available for the M16 system and this is why we turned to HBM" explains Dean Jackson, Huub Ltd Founder and CEO. "In addition to delivering an exceptional product that met the demands of the task, HBM has also delivered the back up and support to match, working with us every step of the way to ensure we have the world's greatest piece of swim testing equipment".

The system
If the swimmer 'swims at constant speed the average drag will equal the average propulsion. Thus the M16 system approach relies on a balance of resistive and propulsion forces. Propulsive forces of the leg action cannot be measured using this approach, so the legs are tied together with a rubber strap and supported by a pull buoy to keep the body in a horizontal position similar to that during actual swimming. The swimmer swims a series of laps on the system whereby each lap is swum at a constant speed. Each lap results in one speed drag data point. For a range of lap-speeds, drag is measured and the relation between speed and drag is calculated.
The result of this being that the push-off forces from the hands from each stroke can then be subsequently measured.

Peak performance in swimming can often take years of training, both in competitive pool swimming and the swimming leg of the triathlon. A highly competitive sport, the difference between success and failure may only be a fraction of a second but the consequences can mean the difference between silver and gold for the athlete.
With testing performed under such tough conditions, the ability to achieve accurate test results from the M16 application were a challenging prospect but thanks to HBM's extensive experience in demanding fields such as this, it was able to provide an integrated solution which enabled Huub to achieve exceptional results which were both accurate and simple.

February 2018

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