The Best Way to Film Underwater:

In Technique by Abbie Fish5 Comments

One of the best ways to receive technical feedback is through video analysis. Have you ever wondered what is the best angle to film a swimmer from? How deep you should put your camera? Where should the swimmer be in the frame? In our next series, we can plan to cover what is the BEST way to film your strokes underwater.

Let’s get started!

There are three types of learners in the world: Visual, Kinesthetic, and Auditory. Some teachers even include an additional type called Readers/Writers. With that being said, swim coaches have a tendency to include kinesthetic, auditory, and readers/writers within their regular workouts—but what about the visual learners?

Did you know that visual learners make up 65% of our population—they are the most common subgroup of learners out there? What do you do to benefit YOUR visual learners at swim practice?

That’s exactly where video analysis comes in!

Within the past decade, underwater cameras have become more and more available to the masses. With prices dropping and camera quality increasing, getting a decent underwater camera won’t break your budget. We owe a special thanks to GoPro for completely revamping the “action sports camera” and pushing other competitors to compete with their quality and prices. Now you can buy a decent underwater camera for about $200.

With that being said, here are eight questions each coach (or swimmer) should ask themselves before purchasing their FIRST underwater camera:

  1. What is your budget?

    How much are you willing to spend on a camera? Do you want insurance? Most cameras don’t come with all the attachments needed to film or mount to the pool wall—are you okay with buying those additional accessories?

    A $199 price tag sounds great, but when you add in insurance, mounts, attachments, filters, and more—the price can easily triple before you know it.

  2. What is your film setting?

    Do you swim indoors? If so, how is the lighting? Do you need an additional light to help brighten the images? If you film outdoors, be sure to pay attention to sun glare and the temperature threshold of your camera!

    Also, if you are using a public facility make sure to ask whether they are okay with you filming. There may be a set time outside of lap swim hours that is more preferred by management.

    Be sure to take note of your pool walls and gutter system—this can affect what additional attachments and accessories you may need for your camera or the person filming.

  1. How often do you plan on using your camera?

    Do you plan on filming everyday at workout or every few months? Be sure to look at the camera’s battery life and recharging time before purchase. Also, whether your camera includes an SD card or if you would need a bigger SD card for your team’s filming needs.

    Your team and group size should be considered, along with how many strokes you plan on filming during each session. A rotating and consistent schedule with filming will allow you to get all of your swimmer’s strokes without filling up your entire SD card or running out of battery life.

    Consider buying a 32 GB or larger SD card. This will allow you to record 3-4 hours of video at a time, as opposed to 1-2 hours with a standard 16gb SD card.

  2. Do you plan on traveling with your camera or will it stay in your office?

    Make sure to look at weight of your camera and all the potential attachments. Some may be easier to travel with than others. Consider size, weight, attachments needed, and ease of portability before purchasing.

  1. How do you plan on playing back your footage?

    Do you plan on immediately playing back your video on an Apple TV or Smart TV—if so, make sure to find a camera is wifi compatible. Some cameras even have their own apps now, for easy connection and playback!

  2. Do you have a preference whether your camera has viewfinder to watch while setting up and filming?

    Including a viewfinder (or screen) is totally up to you. It definitely makes for easier set up and change of your cameras location—but this upgrade will definitely add some extra $$$ to your price tag.

    Consider getting a camera without a screen and figuring out the depth and angle needed for the proper view of your swimmer. After all, the pool(s) your team trains at daily won’t ever change in size or shape!

  3. Do you care about your camera’s resolution or frame rate capabilities?

    Words from the wise—if you plan on slowing down your video for technique analysis. Make sure your camera has a resolution rate equal to or higher than 720p. Also, the camera can shoot in 60 frames per second or more. This will keep the video from being greatly distorted when slowed down to slow-motion.

  4. Is the camera itself waterproof? Or does it need additional housing?

Just like GoPro Models 1-4, most underwater cameras are not waterproof on their own. Underwater camera housing can become costly based on your camera of choice, so make sure you take that into consideration before purchasing it.

Be sure to answer each of these proposed questions before purchasing your first underwater camera. Everybody’s pool is set up differently and your camera must meet the needs of its’ environment, as well as your team’s.

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If you’d like my opinion on a cost conscious, easy to use underwater camera for stroke analysis–go for the original GoPro Hero Session. This camera is unique due to its’ small square size, one-touch controllability, and the fact it’s WATERPROOF without a case.

Click here to PURCHASE the GoPro Hero Session!

The GoPro Hero Session will only set you back $199 bucks and has similar recording qualities of the GoPro Hero 3 without the price tag. The GoPro Hero Session can record up to 100fps with a resolution up to 1440 pixels. The downside to this camera is it does not include a screen, but it is wifi compatible!

GoPro has a great (FREE) app called Capture, which you can download to either an iPhone or Android. You can immediately playback videos that were just recorded through its’ wifi connection, as long as the camera is not submerged underwater.

From there, all you need a simple suction cup attachment to mount your GoPro Hero Session to the pool wall and boom—record away. This entire package will only cost you roughly ~$250 (depending on your SD card size).

Click here to PURCHASE the suction cup mount!

Be sure to stay tuned in for next week where we will discuss specific angles and cool additional attachments you may want to use to help enhance your video feedback!

It is time we start accommodate the visual learners in the world. After all, they make up the majority of our population!

[CLICK HERE] to read Part II!

Until next time,

Abbie Fish

Have footage of your swimmers, but no the time to devote to analyzing it? Let me help you. After all, we can’t add additional hours into the day and I know what a swim coaching schedule is like! 

I can take your already filmed clips and analyze them (including metrics), then give them back to you to discuss with your swimmers. Let’s step up your coaching game a notch. Subscribe below for more information:

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  1. Pingback: I have my Underwater Camera, but now what? | RITTER Sports Performance

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  3. $200? Are you kidding me? I am guessing that GoPro sponsored you. Then it makes sense. There are cheaper options on Amazon.

    Also, try not to use the phrase “That being said” so often. It’s not quite as bad as when one of my kids keeps saying “Like” like all the time.

  4. I have been videotaping underwater since the Olympic team staged at Plattsburgh State for the Montreal games and the university’s Physics Dept. built the swim coaches unit which could roughly be described as a reverse periscope that was adapted to the then B&W cameras at the U . There are significant problems with the underwater GoPros from Hero 5 up. Start with limited chip capacity because of the data needed for HD video. More annoying is that when your finger gets wet and cold it does not operate the touch screen. Finally the Hero 5 is susceptible to temperature changes and condensation forms inside. There are far better options for underwater video available. Modestly priced (roughly $300) is the Nikon line – currently I use an AW300 after giving the older A100 to the grandkids. Sealife sells a higher priced unit for “scuba divers” (it is a SONY), the Nikon is more versatile, sturdier, does not leak or for condensation and finally is easier to edit with. Finally the single most important part of the videotaping is developing the lesson plan to engage the swimmers in an educational process. Otherwise it is just home movies.

  5. I am a huge fan of “Eye of Mine” cameras. They are GoPro quality and hard wired so they communicate with a computer or iPad more easily during underwater videos. Using a free app “live video delay” for macs allows you to watch the last 15seconds of each interval during practice. You can also run it through any video capture app to record. The camera is GoPro price and all the apps are free

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