A professor of fluid mechanics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute used experimental measuring techniques to help the US swim team gain precious milliseconds on their swim times. Professor Timothy Wei developed top-secret equipment and techniques that USA Swimming coaches used to train the Olympians.
The professor used a flaw measurement technique called Digital Particle Image Velocimetry to create a training tool that monitors the swimmers in real-time. The technique allowed the team to look at how swimmers move in the water, identify key vortices, and compute how much energy the swimmer exerts.
"This is the real thing," Wei said. "We have the physical system, we're taking flow measurements of actual swimmers, and we're getting more information than anyone has ever had before about swimming and how the swimmer interacts with the water. And so far, these techniques have contributed to some very significant improvements in the lap times of Olympic swimmers."