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Olympian Kat Holmes Impacting Fencing Off the Strip with Ohio State Research Team

07/02/2024, 10:00am CDT
By Zach Allen

Olympian Kat Holmes is helping a team of researchers from Ohio State University, led by Dr. Jaclyn Caccesse, learn about the biomechanics of fencing to better understand how injuries occur.


Photos by Serge Timacheff

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Olympian Kat Holmes is adding to her fencing resume at the 2024 Summer Nationals, except it’s occurring off of the strip instead.

Holmes is helping a team of researchers from Ohio State University, led by Dr. Jaclyn Caccesse, learn about the biomechanics of fencing to better understand how injuries occur.

“Once you understand how the body moves, you begin to understand how the body may move incorrectly to produce injury,” Holmes says.

Although Holmes is currently training for the Olympics (one of the reasons she’s in Columbus is to participate in a pre-Olympics training camp with Women’s Epee), her post-fencing goal is to enter the sports medicine field. She’s already done “a bunch of stuff” looking into fencing injuries leading up to her current endeavor.

“We’re doing a 3D motion capture, basically, to look at joint angles, limb accelerations and fencing footwork, and also in simple fencing blade actions,” Holmes says.

Holmes and Caccesse are conducting research at the Summer Nationals tournament at a booth equipped with eight cameras that detect, animate and store movement of a fencer. The images are captured from volunteers who perform a series of moves in front of the cameras.

The cameras that are being used to track movement feature new markerless technology — an upgrade from the traditional practice of using reflective markers to track movement. This way, volunteers can wear normal fencing gear to participate.

While the cameras’ debut on June 30 provide a different element to Holmes and Caccesse’s research, the team has conducted other studies and experiments, including a surface test to measure the impact force of a fencer’s lunge.

However, the advanced camera technology has already suggested that each discipline carries different injury risks.

“Across the different disciplines, there seems to be a pretty big difference in how the body moves,” Caccesse says. “It’s pretty clear that injuries might be different across different disciplines because the body is moving differently and because the goal is different.”

Caccesse has 12 years of experience in sports biomechanics research, conducting research in soccer, football and boxing. With the expert insights of Holmes, she can add fencing to the list.

The booth where Holmes, Caccesse and the rest of the team is going to be open until at least July 3. Holmes is hoping for a sample size of around 100 fencers with an even distribution of gender and discipline.

“This is an unfunded study,” Caccesse says, “so it’s out of the goodness of the volunteers’ heart to come in and help.”

Tag(s): Updates  2024 Summer Nationals