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Apple Watch Workout app helps national swim team break records

You might think the Apple Watch Workout app is more for casual use by amateurs, but Australia’s national swim team has credited it with helping it to achieve its best-ever results.

The team does use custom apps too, but the Workout app has played an important role in letting swimmers see their metrics during training sessions, says the world record holder …

Apple shared the story.

Australia’s national swim team, The Dolphins, has been using Apple Watch, iPad, and a combination of apps to improve its performance outcomes, helping propel the team during its most successful period in history.

Through harnessing the sensors and activity-tracking features within Apple Watch, Swimming Australia’s coaches can more accurately capture a complete picture of their athletes’ overall health and performance. And when paired with iPad and custom apps, this powerful ecosystem delivers real-time data and analysis, and a portable, powerful visual feedback tool for coaches to use when communicating with athletes in the pool.

The native Workout app on Apple Watch tracks both pool and open water disciplines, and it surfaces important swimming metrics the athletes can view during training sessions.

“Data is the key ingredient when it comes to designing performance outcomes for our athletes,” says Jess Corones, Swimming Australia’s performance solutions manager. “We have seen increased engagement from athletes wearing Apple Watch, which gives us more data points to inform analysis and make coaching decisions. iPad has become an essential coaching tool because it allows us to access athlete health data and race footage instantly from anywhere.”

One element of that has been to avoid over-training.

World record holder and gold medallist swimmer, Zac Stubblety-Cook, relies on Apple Watch for instantaneous feedback throughout the day to better manage his training load and recovery to ensure he arrives at competitions in peak performance.

“As an elite athlete, it’s important for me to access heart rate and activity data in real time so I can make quick adjustments and avoid overtraining,” says Stubblety-Cook. “Being able to accurately measure my heart rate in between sets has been a really valuable data point for me and my coach to understand how well I’m responding to training.”

Para-swimming athlete, gold medallist, and world record holder Katja Dedekind is also a fan.

“Being able to strap something on my wrist that is unobtrusive and tracks my sleep, activity, and heart rate variability has been incredibly handy,” says Dedekind. “It takes all the guesswork out of training preparation and is far more accurate than inputting data manually. In the lead-up to Birmingham, it played a huge role in my preparation as it allowed the performance team to remotely monitor my health and fitness to ensure I tapered off my training at the optimum time.” 

Apple highlighted upcoming improvements to the app in watchOS 9.

watchOS 9 will introduce new swimming enhancements including the addition of kickboard detection as a stroke type for Pool Swim workouts. Using sensor fusion, Apple Watch will automatically detect when users are swimming with a kickboard and classify the stroke type in the workout summary, along with distance swam.

Swimmers will also be able to track their efficiency with a SWOLF score — a stroke count combined with the time, in seconds, it takes to swim one length of the pool.

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