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Physics of Swimming



In Swimming, reducing drag is a huge factor in decreasing your time and increasing performace.

Water is more than 700 times denser and 55 times more viscous than air. There

are three main types of drag that act on a swimmer: friction, wave, and pressure

drag. Frictional drag is the result of the interaction between the swimmer’s

body and the water molecules and serves to slow down the swimmer. However, this

drag also propels the swimmer through the water (Newton’s 3rd law).

As the speed of the swimmer increases, pressure drag becomes a factor. The

faster the swimmer is moving, there is increased pressure on the front region of

the body (the head). This increase causes a pressure difference between the two

ends of the body and results in turbulence. A third form of drag, wave drag,

occurs when the swimmer or any object moves through the surface of a liquid. The

pressure around the swimmer’s body increases because of the different water

velocities, which result in waves.

This results in a lot of drag slowing you down when your swimming.


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