Pulling and Kicking in Swimming

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Swimming is simple; it consists of two parts -- pulling and kicking. However, swimming is not all about strength, technique, or skill; it is also about fluid dynamics, drag reduction, and body structure. Due to drag reduction, some swimmers will go to extremes to reduce drag. How efficiently a swimmer kicks and pulls is also influenced by the viscosity of the water (the thickness of the water). As well as having strong muscles throughout the body because almost every muscle is used while swimming, there are many variables that effect the speed of a swimmer. Several forces slow down a swimmer; two examples being friction and drag.Water is 700 times denser than air, 55 times more viscous (Gibo, 2005, para. 3), and 1,000 times more resistant (Koff, Matkovich, McPhilips, 2004, para. 1). Because of this density, viscosity, resistance, drag heavily affects a swimmer’s speed. A liquid’s viscosity increases as its temperature decreases (“Viscosity”, n.d., para. 1). The average water temperature for an athletic pool is 25.5-27.5 degrees Celsius, giving pool water a relatively high viscosity (“Air and Water Temperature Guidelines”, n.d., para. 21). Friction is caused by the constant contact between the swimmer and the water molecules (Gibo, 2005, para. 4), causing what is known as friction drag. Friction drag comes into play the most when the swimmer is at racing speeds. "The pressure around the swimmer increases due to the difference in water velocities directly around his or her body” (Gibo, 2005, para. 6). Because drag has such a large impact, swimmers will try to reduce their drag as much as possible. Two ways swimmers can reduce the amount of drag they create is by means of shaving and using the right equipme... ... middle of paper ... ...to, MN: Smart Apple Media. Koff, T., Matkovich, E., & McPhillips, K. (2004, April 15). The physics of swimming. Retrieved November 6, 2013, from http://www.unc.edu/~tarak/ Nagel, R. (2002). U-X-L encyclopedia of science (2nd ed.). Detroit: U-X-L. Nasr, S. L. (n.d.). Can a swimsuit make you swim faster? Retrieved November 5, 2013, from http://science.howstuffworks.com/swimsuit-swim-faster3.htm Nelson, R., & McNeill, A. (Eds.). (2004). Junior reference collection (Vol. 5). Retrieved from Student Resource Center database. (Accession No. EJ2121000054) Sharp, R. L., & Costill, D. L. (1989, October 21). Influence of body hair removal on physiological responses during breaststroke swimming. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2691818 Viscosity. (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2013, from http://www.chem.purdue.edu/gchelp/liquids/viscosity.html

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