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The Fundamental Physics Of Swimming Essay

1589 words - 7 pages

Physics can be applied to every movement, job, sport and task that we perform every day. Perhaps one of the most difficult sports in my opinion is competitive swimming. Swimmers work against many forces as defined later in this paper to move their bodies through the water. The most common swimming techniques and or strokes include the: front crawl, back stroke, breaststroke, butterfly stroke, sidestroke and the dog paddle. Swimming isn’t exactly natural for humans with the exception of being in the womb. Humans aren’t supplied with aquatic features that allow us to move and breathe freely in the water. This paper will explain some of the forces that are acted upon the human body while working to adapt to these aquatic conditions.
When analyzing the physics of swimming Newton’s three laws of motion are essentially the most important piece of information in the analysis of the different techniques of swimming. Propulsion is best explained by Newton’s First Law. Newton’s First Law: explains that force is a requirement in order for “to change the motion of any body, whether it is moving or at rest: Any body will remain at rest or in motion in a straight line with a constant velocity unless acted upon by an outside force” (Urone, 1986, p. 32). Newton's First law basically states that propulsive forces are important, should be amplified and strongly enforced. Resistive forces should be decreased as much as possible against the human body to allow it to perform skilled strokes with ease.
If we take this into consideration then the swimmer would be able to propel more efficiently. “In stages of some strokes there are no obvious forces occurring which is termed an "inertial lag". A common example is in "catch-up" stroking in crawl stroke when one arm is extended forward and the other is recovering” (Rushall, 2013, p.2). As a result of this, there are not any propulsive forces created even though there is no kicking being done. During this time, the only effective forces are the improved resistances from kicking that slows the individual’s movement.
Streamlining can be explained by using Newton’s Second Law. This law of motion represents the perfect correlation of force, mass and acceleration. Newton’s Second Law is “The acceleration produced by forces acting on a body is directly proportional to and in the same direction as the net external forces and inversely proportional to the mass of the body” (Urone, 1986, p. 32). The best hydrodynamic position for competitive swimming is Streamlining. The main objective to streamlining is cutting through water with the least amount of resistance. To do a streamline swimmers extend their arms above their heads, while putting their arms together and squeezing the head in-between it (Koff, Matkovich, & McPhillips, 2004). It is a proven fact that streamlining used with dolphin kicking underwater is quicker and takes less force, than if one would swim on the surface of water. In the process...

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