Recent debate about swimsuits worn by competitive swimmers has led to technical improvements that enhance performance, as reflected in the great number of records that have been set using such suits. In a sport where fractions of seconds count, buoyancy, resistance in the water and technical design of suits are of utmost importance. In order to assist coaches of Dutch speed swimmers, the University of Amsterdam, the KNZB (Dutch Swimming Federation), InnoSportNL and Delft University of Technology have joined together in a project to investigate exactly which suits most improve performance and how to best develop these suits. Of primary importance is the fit of the suit, which must be perfect for the swimmer to perform at the highest level. One of the areas of investigation was to determine how well a suit should follow the contours of the body and the impact of the slightest fit imperfection on water resistance. By dragging the swimmer through the water, an independent value can be set for each individual swimmer with respect to the shape of the suit, size and materials used. This research is independent and its results will be published. Associate Professor Johan Molenbroek, one of the leading researchers at the TU Delft, explains, "In order to perform the tests, we needed to get correct dimensions of each swimmer in a quick way. In the past, this was a time-consuming task done by hand, during which swimmers cooled down causing incorrect measurements.” Measurements were then transferred to a 3d model and resulted in a mere approximation of the swimmers body. The Artec L-scanner has been used to get results quickly. Swimmers stand on a rotating table and within 30 seconds a total body scan is done. The Artec scanner makes possible an absolutely accurate body measurement, whose dimensions are taken not from a model, but from the real 3d shape of the swimmer. "The advantages are obvious," says Johan Molenbroek, "no markers, direct scanning without any preparation, speed of scanning, and ease of use. The software that comes with the scanner makes the post-processing of the scan very fast. Within 5 minutes we have a complete finished 3d scan that is then used to calculate volumes and dimensions in order to determine the ideal shape and size of a suit.” "Rubber bands were also put around the body at certain positions. This was done only in the beginning, to validate the 3d scans. Now we trust the Artec scans well enough, so that what we scan is the real thing", commended Professor Molenbroek.
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