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RowUK Research and footplate design

We spoke to Cormac Nolan at the University of Leeds Biomechanics Laboratory about his research project on footplate design.


What is the title and objectives of your research?

‘Biomechanics of Simulated Rowing’. There are two main objectives; to compare the kinematics of rowing between Swingulator and ergometer rowing, and investigate the kinetics of the lower limb during Swingulator rowing.


How did you approach this project?

We used a standard ergometer and Swingulator with force plates added to the Swingulator to investigate the kinetics. Motion capture and analysis software Qualysis and Visual 3D were used to calculate each kinematic variable. I conducted the research under the supervision of Dr Neil Messenger and Dr Todd Stewart, neither of whom are rowers.


Do you think having no rowing experience is an advantage to this sort of research?

As a keen sportsperson I was aware of the basic concepts of rowing, however, I had to gain a more advanced knowledge. I began the research with an open mind and was willing to investigate things that had not been talked about before in rowing literature.


What are we seeing in this video below? 

This is a visual representation that can be created for each athlete using Visual 3D. Each segment of the body is identified so that calculations can be made to provide data such as; joint angles, joint moments; centre of pressure and gravity, speed and range of movement etc.

What stage is your project at?

We have shared some initial findings with the GB Rowing Team, Janousek & Stampfli Boats and of course, RowUK. I'm trying to provide information for them to advise on future work. As one of the first studies using this equipment we have created a strong base of knowledge. We need to decide what interesting parts we should investigate further and design more experiments to keep the research current and moving forward.

Do you think this research has any other applications?

I think it would be very beneficial for people to see, not only the data presented, but a visual representation of the rowing stroke. This would provide athletes and coaches with all possible viewpoints which they may be able to use to analyse technique.

If you could give rowers one top tip following this research project, what would it be?

It's tough to give any athletes tips as a non-rower and I'm sure coaches wouldn't be happy with me giving them advice! However as a general tip from this research I would say that there's always things to learn, so keep an open mind.

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