Swimming Tech: Unstoppable Coach meet Immovable Workouts

Who doesn’t like a pun loaded with SEO and layered with double entendres that would embarrass Chaucer only if he was made to learn machine learning algorithms in lieu of ‘The Miller’s Tale’. Fortunately for him and unyielding young’ish’ curmudgeons like myself, technology is everywhere at all times. And while many decisions may just be binary, their inevitable collisions make for a world of complex kaleidoscopes where wonderful colors are driven by a power curve.

Immovable Object


do swimming paddles workUnless your a part of the X-men, evolution is a multigenerational struggle to adapt through experiential grit over circumstantial failure. Such a herculean effort celebrates the task of ‘digging in’ one’s feet. And its inevitable reward is a very specific task-oriented success. An earned privilege that comes at the expense of time and other environmental change.

Unstoppable Force

Technology is the unenviable variable that speeds up the process by increasing communication. So assuming the communication is vetted, purposeful, relevant information an opportunity exists on our wrists and in our pockets to transform performance for ourselves and those we meet. But if everyone learns at a different pace and in a unique style, how do we make sense of the presented information to make an actionable change? Enter the power curve for outliers and those who don’t just ‘move the needle’, they spike it.

Disruptive Selection

The short-lived era of the super suit was an opportunity for disruptive selection In swimming. The ‘technological’ intervention clearly pushed coaches to adapt and athletes to flourish or flounder depending on folks ability to ‘catch up’ and/or adopt. A unilaterally polarizing effect that led swimming to remove the interloper.

But the problem wasn’t a better mousetrap. It was an inability to deconstruct the underlying principle information as quickly as a solution already ‘in the wild’.

“If you had a superstar performer working at your factory, well, that person could not do [a] better job than the assembly line would allow,” Aguinis said. “If you unconstrain the situation and allow people to perform as best as they can, you will see the emergence of a small minority of superstars who contribute a disproportionate amount of the output.”

Everything Old is New Again

Unfortunately, for swimming, technology became the ‘superstar’ and human interest lost out. But the answer is not the absence, politicization, or proliferation of information that increases awareness. There is no lottery ticket to be won.

The answer is to, like Chaucer, iterate storytelling until an innovation scales the expanse of the coaching mind – the first wave was written, then spoken, acted, and now interactive (AR, VR, wearables, etc). If we take the best coaching minds and offer it to everyone else – performance is not exceptionalism and its adoption is egalitarian.

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