Kaisa Sali is one of the first SmartPaddle users (link to early promo video). Like any product, Trainesense SmartPaddle has multiple stories behind the scenes. Kaisa’s story is one of those (link to her webpage).
Common theme for the stories behind SmartPaddle is “rediscovering yourself”. As part of our own rediscovery story we have helped our partners rediscover their swimming. Each of these partnerships have contributed to what SmartPaddle is today.
The birth of SmartPaddle
For us founders, Trainesense has offered a possibility to rediscover ourselves: in 2015 over twenty years as Nokia employee had gone to an end. We had seen the birth, the glory and the fall of Nokia smartphone business. Now we were totally on our own: world full of opportunities and all the decisions were purely our own. At the same time, VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland) published news on an early version of the SmartPaddle. The discussions resulted in establishing Trainesense.
The first prototypes were clumsy to use and data was laborious to process. However, the excitement was there. We were able to utilise our professional competences in a new way and we learned a lot every day. “For me personally, the big source for excitement was the fact that now I was able to do automatically the same things I had been doing manually 20 years earlier: digitising the strokes from VHS video to help the swimmers realise what happens underwater. Back then we taped an overhead slide on the TV screen where we draw the hand path with a marker pen. But now everything happened automatically in seconds … and I had much more even more relevant information.” Riku Rimpelä is commenting on the early days of SmartPaddle
Early versions of SmartPaddle sensor and data visualisations
After six months of intensive development we felt that we were ready for approaching some of the key players in Finnish swimming community. For us the piloting during the summer marked the start of fruitful co-operation with multiple parties. Now two years later and looking back, we did not really know anything at that time. But if nothing is done, nothing can be achieved. By answering the questions and finding solutions to problems, we continued developing the system and our competences.
Kaisa Sali’s role in SmartPaddle story
During the summer 2016 we helped her to prepare for her first Ironman World Championship where she became 5th. During 2017 we met only seldomly: we were busy in developing the product and Kaisa had moved to Boulder to work with her new coach. Whenever she visited Finland, we got together and shared the latest learnings. The development on both sides was tangible: Kaisa learned to take the next steps on her professional career, and we learned to utilize the new information for helping swimmers and coaches to rediscover their swimming and coaching.
In 2017, Kaisa was 5th in the Worlds again. Great achievement as such, but she felt that there is potential to do even better in 2018. On the key development area, her swimming, she wanted to get the full potential out of the SmartPaddle. So we started “rediscovering her swimming”.
The new season was kicked-off by reviewing the measurements from 2017. The analysis showed clearly the development areas. For the first time in her swimming career Kaisa had the information she had been missing: fact based improvement points and a plan on how to progressively work with them during the season. The actual work was started with a few hands-on sessions. During the sessions, we ensured that she can “feel the data”, i.e., can relate the visualised data to her own feeling on water.
After the sessions Kaisa travelled to Italy for winter camp and we would be dependent on the remote analysis capability of SmartPaddle. However, we continued on the same track as before: best way to learn is to try and learn fast as we go.
We have continued the close co-operation since that and will be providing more of the details of her story.