Technical Briefs

Comparative Analysis of Thrust Production for Distinct Arm-Pull Styles in Competitive Swimming

[+] Author and Article Information
Alfred von Loebbecke, Rajat Mittal

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,  The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052Mechanical Engineering,  Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218

J Biomech Eng 134(7), 074501 (Jul 13, 2012) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4007028 History: Received January 17, 2012; Accepted June 14, 2012; Revised June 14, 2012; Posted July 06, 2012; Published July 13, 2012; Online July 13, 2012

A computational fluid dynamics (CFD) based analysis of the propulsive forces generated by two distinct styles of arm-pulls in front-crawl as well as backstroke is presented in this Technical Brief. Realistic models of the arm pulling through water are created by combining underwater video footage and laser-scans of an arm with computer animation. The contributions of drag and lift forces on the arm to thrust are computed from CFD, and it is found that lift forces provide a dominant contribution to thrust for all the arm-pull styles examined. However, contrary to accepted notions in swimming, pronounced sculling (lateral motion) not only does not increase the contribution of lift forces on the hand to overall thrust, it decreases the contribution of drag forces to thrust. Consequently, pronounced sculling seems to reduce the effectiveness of the arm-pull.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1

Side (left) and top/bottom (right) views of (a) backstroke-1, (b) backstroke-2, (c) front-crawl-1, and (d) front-crawl-2. (e) Graphic showing matching of stroke kinematics to underwater video using articulated virtual joints. The definition of the stroke amplitude (A) is indicated in 1(a). (f) Definition of flow vectors and force components.



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