Are You Ready? (cont.)

The Perfect Stroke

THE FUTURE In 2003, the U.S. swim team started applying the physics of fluid dynamics—how liquids flow around moving bodies—to its athletes. By 2005, working in conjunction with university labs, software developers, and Hollywood special-effects experts, it hopes to create a diagnostic tool that will use digital imaging and computer modeling to pinpoint the world's most efficient swimming stroke. John Walker, 34, assistant director of technical support for the team, says, "We'll have the ability to take 40 years of swimming-mechanics theory, test it in a matter of seconds, and then apply the results the same day."

WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU Sorry, sailor, only U.S. team members will have their strokes analyzed—right now, the system costs $20,000 a year to run. The best you can do is mimic their perfect form when you see them put it into practice at the 2008 Olympics.

UNTIL THEN Walker recommends Dartfish, a software program that compares an elite swimmer's techniques to your own. To use this system, which starts at $30, load video of yourself swimming laps; Dartfish then compares the images with video of an Olympic swimmer to pinpoint what you're doing right and wrong.

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