SI Vault
August 17, 1964
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August 17, 1964


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It may be too late for the device to do wonders this year in Tokyo, but in the future Russia plans to be plugged in and ready. They have been at work in the Moscow Physical Culture Institute and, in the years to come, Soviet swimmers will be wired for sound.

The thing that bothered Institute Teacher Vyacheslav Belokovsky is that performance in "dry" sports is measured largely by watching the athlete run, throw or jump. In "wet" sports the coach has been able to watch the swimmer only dimly underwater and, because of light refraction, has had to take the swimmer's unscientific word for what actually happened. So Belokovsky and Victor Bykov, an engineer, invented an electronic faultfinder for swimming coaches.

The machine, reports Novosti Press Agency, is better than underwater filming because it spots swimming form instantly. Sealed "pickup" elements are attached to the swimmer's arms and legs. Hydrodynamic pressures on the pickups are converted to electric signals; the signals run along flexible wires attached to a sliding overhead cable—and it comes out here, in a poolside box with amplifier and recorder. Peaks and valleys are then graphed on the tape and tell all, says the institute.

So far there is only one of the new stroke-detectors. But Belokovsky says Australia is interested in it and there will be more. The U.S. vote on the underwater bug is not in yet.

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