Swimming with open or closed fingers? physics of swimming part 3
- Published on May 11, 2018
- On this video we will discuss how the hands pull water and we will find out what is the best position of the fingers.
On the first part we discussed how we float and on the second part what makes us move and what stops us. Knowing that, we know that the hands and the feet are the main sources of propulsion. What if I told you that according to studies we could increase by 8% de drag coefficient on every stroke. That translates in dropping a little more than half a second on a 50 free, simply by changing the position of your fingers.
Intuitively, we think that having our fingers close to each other would help us pull more water but that is not correct. The reason for this is that there is a boundary layer on each finger that resists movement. If the fingers are close to each other around 4 to 8 mm apart, this creates some turbulence that helps pull more water. Essentially, this layer can help increase your hand’s area of drag.
The magic number according to some studies is 8 mm of spread. Your thumb should also be close to your hand. Naturally your fingers are separated almost like that when the hand is relaxed. So it is not biomechanically challenging, in theory. This is new information for me, but it looks like my body intuitively found this to be the best way to pull water, although sometimes my thumb goes out too much and my fingers spread too wide while gliding. But I think it is possible if it is practiced enough. It has been shown that swimmers can adjust the angle of their dive by only 1 degree, so why not a few millimeters of finger spreading?
speaking about the dive, if you want to know what a perfect dive looks like according to physics make sure to subscribe and wait for the next chapter of this series.
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The scientists detailed their findings Monday (Nov. 21) at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics in Portland, Oregon.
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