Today on Biomechanics in the Wild, we will be talking with Dr. Carl Payton, a Professor of Sports Biomechanics at Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, England. He researches the movement of paraswimmers and is currently working with a team to develop a new classification system for the International Paralympics Committee. He also serves as a support scientist for Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic swimming teams.
Paraswimmers are allocated different classifications depending on their disability. Swimmers with a motor coordination, mobility, or limb deficiency are split into rankings S1 through S10, with S10 being those swimmers with the least level of impairment. Swimmers with a visual impairment (S11-S13) or a intellectual disability (S14) are also split into different classes. The goal of this system is to allow the swimmers to compete with swimmers of a similar ability level, to create a level competition field.
A transcript of the show can be found at tinyurl.com/BWILDparaswimming.
The book that sparked Dr. Payton’s interest in sports biomechanics is “The Biomechanics of Sports Techniques” by James G. Hay [ISBN: 978-0130845344].
The on-land motion capture system that we were discussing utilizes reflective spheres on a dark background to track an individual’s motion. The platform that Dr. Payton mentioned is Vicon [www.vicon.com]. The underwater motion capture system that Dr. Payton discussed is Miqus Underwater (Qualisys, Göteborg, Sweden).
For further information on the subjectivity of the current classification system, please see either Sports Illustrated’s article “Will Cheating Ruin the Paralympic Games?” [Robert Sanchez] or Burkett et al. 2018 “Performance Characteristics of Para Swimmers: How Effective is the Swimming Classification System?”.
For further information on the different classification levels, please see this brief article describing the levels from the International Paralympic Committee [www.paralympic.org/swimming/classification].
Dr. Carl Payton’s email is email@example.com. The research associate that is working closely with him on this project is Dr. Dawn O’Dowd (firstname.lastname@example.org). Dr. Brendan Burkett who is the co-investigator on the paraswimming re-classification study is a Professor of Sport Science at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia (email@example.com). He is also the Head Coach of the Australian Paralympic Swim Team. Dr. Luke Hogarth (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who is working closely with Dr. Burkett on the evidence-based classification system.
For further reading on the research of Dr. Payton and his team, as well as other resources on the topic please see the below document for articles.