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Biomechanist makes a splash at VIS

A Victoria University PhD candidate who is making a splash in the world of elite swimming has been appointed the Victorian Institute of Sports’ (VIS) first full-time biomechanist.

Elaine Tor has helped improve the performance of the state’s top swimmers since she embarked on her PhD in 2011, sponsored by Swimming Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport.

Her newly-completed thesis focuses on how swimmers can achieve the perfect start – the most critical part of a sprint swimming race, according to Elaine.

“The research is already producing good results in the pool and we hope it will lead to more gold medals at major competitions,” she said. 

In her new role, Elaine is also modernising a training pool at Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park for the VIS’s 25 or so scholarship-awarded elite swimmers, aged 17 to 30. They include able-bodied athletes and Paralympic swimmers. 

“The difference in training for the two groups is that we need to be more creative and customise our technology and equipment to meet the specific needs of each Paralympic athlete,” she said. 

Elaine is currently acquiring innovative equipment for the pool that will support biomechanics research well into the future. This includes new starting blocks and cameras that can film swimmers from all angles, even underwater.

Outside the pool, Elaine is helping develop a new partnership with the VIS and Victoria University that will see three third-year exercise science students receive honours scholarships for sport studies next year.

One scholarship will be offered for a biomechanics project in swimming, the second for a physiology project in aerial skiing, and the third, for performance analysis in netball.

Elaine says her role at the VIS fulfils her long-held interest to find a career combining elite sport with research.

“I’m lucky to be working within a high-performance program while having VU’s academic support and expertise,” she says. ENDS


Elaine Tor lives in Wantirna and is available for interview.

Photos of Elaine poolside are available. 

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