When you jump into the water and start swimming, your bodies are subjected to various forces. These forces act in individuals differently depending on various factors such as shape and density. There is variation in how we float, the resistance we encounter when trying to move in water, and the effectiveness of the swimming style that we may embrace. The force that tends to oppose our movement in water is commonly referred to as drag. Water, due to its large density creates resistance as we try to move through it. There are three common types of drag that swimmers encounter, namely; form drag, wave drag, and frictional drag. There is a need for us who like swimming to come up with strategies for minimizing various types of drag as it will help us increase our speed as well as ensure efficient use of energy during swimming.
What is form drag? I know most of you are eager to know the meaning of this term. As I mentioned earlier, it is a resistance in swimming, which is created by the shape of the participant’s body as they navigate through the water (Bakken et al. 561). This kind of resistance is considered as the major contributor to the resistance of any moving object in the water. However, as a swimmer, you can be able to control this kind of resistance so as to improve the efficiency of your movement.
It is obvious that in fluids, a narrow object will penetrate easily and swiftly as opposed to a wide object. Now that form drag involves the shape of the body; it is explicit that a slim person will move faster in water due to reduced resistance compared to a huge individual. Therefore, as a remedy to minimize form drag, a swimmer should emphasize on streamlining (Bakken et al. 570). For instance, you can move through water with minimal energy and increased the speed with your arms moving close beside your body as opposed to when they are stretched out on either side of the body.
With such a clear description of form drag, we can now focus on wave drag. This is resistance that rises as a result of water turbulence. Consequently, you and other swimmers as in water can create turbulence thereby leading to wave drag. As you are swimming, your movement may create waves that are likely to add resistance impact to your swift forward movement. It is not possible for you to prevent such waves from occurring, but you can minimize the resistance by applying various swimming techniques.
As you try to swim faster, you are likely to generate more waves thereby increasing the resistance. Therefore, to minimize this kind of resistance, you should make smooth and even strokes that reduce splashing of water. Wave resistance can also be minimized by moving underwater more especially during turns, and starts. Besides, you can opt to reduce side-to-side as well as up-and-down motions during your movement(Barraclough 45). As such, you can simply reduce but not eliminate wave resistance.
Frictional drag is the other form of resistance experienced by most swimmers. The resistance is created by the texture of your body surface as you glide through the water(Barraclough 48). Like the other types of drag, frictional resistance cannot be totally eliminated, but rather be reduced. Wearing baggy costumes while swimming tends to increase this kind of resistance. Therefore, to minimize frictional drag, you should ensure your body surface as very smooth. This can be achieved through wearing a smooth tight-fitting costume as well as a bathing cap. Moreover, you can even opt to shave your body hair to ensure friction force is highly minimized.
For you to navigate swiftly in water, there is a need to minimize water resistance as well as increase your propulsive energy. Such way you will be able to use minimal energy and increase your movement speed(“Water Safety and Swimming Lessons for Children” 288). Therefore, the way you position yourself in water as well as how you make arms strikes highly matters. You should ensure you are in a position that will enhance your movement. This will be done by ensuring that the center of mass is slightly below the buoyancy center to ensure they align, thereby promoting stability(Barraclough 53). As such you will be able to manage all these kinds of resistance with ease.
There are several types of drag you can encounter while swimming. However, these three are the common and major contributors to overall body resistance. It is upon you to maintain a lateral alignment by rotating around your body’s longitudinal axis and ensuring your head is always in line with your body. Besides, you should your arms and legs should be stroke softly and smoothly so as to reduce the intensity of waves thereby reducing wave drag. Finally, remember to maintain a smooth body surface so as to reduce frictional force that may rise between your body surface texture and the water. As such, you can be able to reduce the resistance in movement and increasing propulsive force thereby having a swift glide.
Bakken, George S. et al. “It’s Just Ducky To Be Clean: The Water Repellency And Water Penetration Resistance Of Swimming Mallard AnasPlatyrhynchos Ducklings”. J Avian Biology 37.6 (2006): 561-571. Web.
Barraclough, Sue. Water Safety. Oxford: Heinemann Library, 2007. Print.
“Water Safety And Swimming Lessons For Children”. Arch PediatrAdolesc Med 163.3 (2009): 288. Web.