Swimming And Biomechanics

Natural forces affect the movements of swimmers in water. And it is often useful
to know how these forces act. This knowledge will help swimming teachers and
coaches analyze swimming skills and assist them to understand how these forces
influence movement, so that they can encourage beginners to be better swimmers
or good swimmers to achieve there optimum potential. Biomechanics is the branch
of science that is concerned with understanding the relationship between a
living body’s structure and function relative to movement. In this paper the
swimming form of the front crawl stroke will be analyzed, which may result in
improvement in the following areas: Improving performance Preventing
injury Correcting weaknesses Identifying ways to alter human movement
patterns “Biomechanics is considered to be the physics of how the body
moves. When these physical principles are applied to sports skills it becomes an
integrated study between the internal forces produced by the body and the
naturally occurring external forces that act on the body as skills are executed
(Carr, 1997, p4.)”. Although the final quality of movement will totally
depend upon the athlete’s (swimmer’s) ability to integrate both internal forces
generated by muscular actions with the external forces of gravity, buoyancy,
fiction and mass that are present during swimming. When looking at swimming one
must first look at how the human body acts and generates forces in water.

“Water is a unique environment. It possesses qualities that will assist the
swimmer, but it also has qualities that will impede the swimmer’s progress
through the water. For instance, the water’s density provides a buoyant force
for the swimmer, while at the same time providing resistance to the swimmers
propulsion (?????, 1995, p42)”. Topics to continue with: Main principles
and their application Density Water Resistance Skin/Frictional Resistance
Frontal/Wave Resistance Eddy/Turbulence Resistance Propulsion Water Friction
Propulsive Drag Lift Force Streamlining The main principles and their
application of the front crawl stoke Buoyancy ; Flotation An object that is
immersed either totally or partially in water experiences an upward force as the
water’s density endeavors to stop it from sinking (Maglischo, 1982). This upward
force is known as the buoyant force and acts through the center of the displaced
water. This force therefore, tends to counteract the effect of gravity and the
weight of the object, the net result being that the weight of the object is
reduced by the upward force of buoyancy (Costill, 1992). (#Diagram#) Every
object has an absolute center position where all forces exerted by the body
equal zero. This central point of an object’s mass is known as the center of
gravity and is the point around which it balances. “The center of gravity
is approximately 50-52% of an individuals height, as there is an equal spread of
mass above and below this point (Allen, 1999)”. The same can be said for
the center of buoyancy, as above and below this point there is an equal spread
of volume of the displaced water (Allen, 1999). The location of the center of
buoyancy which is the center of the water displaced by the body, is actually
closer to the head than in the location of the center of gravity. The reasons
for this are: The volume of water displaced has a greater mass then the chest
area. The chest has a lower density than the water because of its lung
capacity. Therefore the upward force of buoyancy acts thought a point higher up
the body than the center of gravity (Costill, 1992). (#Diagram#) (I may need to
include more?) (And relate it back to the front crawl?) Density The term
specific gravity is used to describe the ratio between an object’s density to
that of water’s density. “Pure water density being the “reference
point” having a specific gravity of 1.00 (Carr, 1997, p67)”. Therefore
anything placed in water will float or sink in accordance to it’s own specific
gravity value. Anything greater than 1.00, will sink. While anything less than
1.00 will float. In the human body there is variation from person to person,
this is due to the amount of air in ones lungs and the percentage of bone,
muscle and fat, which all vary in their own individual masses. Both bone and
muscle are heavier than fat. From this information one can assume that a lean
and muscular body or one with a heavy bone structure, will not float as well as
one that is the opposite. (Chart #1.) Relationship between Specific Gravity
& Body Composition Studies have shown that: “in general, the specific
gravity of women will be less than that of men, and that of children will be
less than that of adults, especially at ages when the trunk is a greater
proportion of the total body mass” (Adrian & Cooper, 1989). (Chart #2.)
& (Diagram The human body in water) Water Resistance In all the strokes used
in swimming there is resistance. As swimmers move through water, they should aim
to minimize resistance. In the front crawl action there are three major forms of
resistance they are: Skin, or frictional resistance Frontal or wave
resistance Eddy or turbulence resistance. (Diagram of the front crawl
resistance) Skin or Frictional Resistance In the action of the front crawl, this
form of resistance occurs because “new” water is always rubbing
against the swimmer’s body. One way this could be significantly lowered would be
if the body could carry on its surface a very thin layer of surface water. This
phenomenon naturally occurs in under water animals such as dolphins and sharks.

This is the same type of concept which occurs on golf balls due to the dimpled
surface (Wilmore). To improve the resistance in the front crawl action swimmers
can try to make their bodies as smooth as possible. Some examples of this are
seen in the close fitting swimwear, oiling the skin and shaving the body and
head. In the front crawl action the magnitude of the surface friction will be
determined by: The speed of water relative to the swimmers speed The
amount of surface area of the body The smoothness of the body The
qualities of the water (Maglischo, 1982) (#Diagram#) Frontal or Wave Resistance
In the action of the front crawl the body is propelled forward through the
water. This creates a wave or wall of water, which swells up in front of the
body. “These waves can have a powerful retarding effect and the retardation
increases as the swimmer’s velocity increases (?????)”. It should be noted
how ever, that this wave also assists in the front crawl action as the swimmer
breaths behind the wave formed by the head, thus keeping the head level and
beneath the water line. “The net effect being, that swimmers are able to
conserve energy and still maintain a streamlined body position throughout the
stroke (Costill, 1992, pg.48)”. The effect of frontal resistance changes
continuously according to stroke technique. The difference in depth of the area
covered by the body during the action of the front crawl (Maglischo, 1982).

Essay due? We'll write it for you!
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

(#diagram# Front crawl bow wave) Eddy or Turbulence Resistance “Water left
undisturbed will flow evenly and in a laminar state (Maglischo, 1982,
pg.12.)”. However, swimmers inevitably disturb the water that they are
moving through. This effect can be reduced by keeping the body streamlined,
disturbing a minimum quantity of water, thus keeping the water in a laminar
state. (#Diagram of Form Drag#) Laminar flow reduces resistance because the
water molecules slip past the streamlined body with minimum change in speed
and/or direction. This is not the case if there is an obstruction in the path of
the water. In this situation, the water molecules slow down and push against the
leading surface thus creating a high pressure in front of the object (Maglischo,
1982). At the same time the water cannot change direction quickly enough behind
the object as it moves through the water. This turbulance has a low pressure and
is characterised by eddies and moving water (Maglischo, 1982). A good example of
this situation is shown by the bow wave in front of the head and the turbulence
of water that is behind the head and down the back of swimmers as they move
forward through the water in the front crawl. The whirling currents are areas
where the water is unstable and the lower pressure area that has been developed
will create a suction effect to reduce the forward motion by pulling the body
part or parts back. (#Diagram Eddies around the body#) Eddy turbulance can be
caused by poor stroke technique or by having a poor streamlining position in the
water. Examples of these errors in the front crawl are: Poor hand and arm
entry in the water. Leg kicking with a large knee bend. A deep hollow in
the back, which raises the hips too high. (Maglischo, 1982) The human body is
not adapted to moving freely through water, due to its large flat areas and
rounded limbs. This leads to turbulence being an unavoidable force in the
simming action that is the front crawl. The magnitude of eddy turbulence however
will depend upon: The cross sectional width of the body part that is moving
perpendicular to the flow of water. The shape of the body parts. The
smoothness of the surface. (Costill, 1992) Streamlining: Reduced resistance.

Eddy Turbulence: Suction effect on the back. Pressure on the front pushes the
object back. (#Diagram Eddy Resistance ; Eddy Turbulence#) Propulsion Action
of the Front Crawl The Arm Stroke Entry ; Stretch Down sweep ; catch The
in sweep The upsweep Release ; Recovery Timing of the Arms The Flutter Kick
Down beat Up beat Kick Width Lateral Kicks Is the Kick Propulsive? Body Position
Horizontal Alignment Lateral Alignment Breathing Timing of the Arms ; Legs 6
Beat kick 2 Beat kick 2 Beat cross over kick 4 beat kick Breathing Patterns 25m
– 50m 100m Longer Distances Variations in Style
Anthony, C. and Thibodeau, G. 1987. Anatomy and Physiology, 12th Edn. St.

Louis,Times Mirror Publishing. Fox, E. 1984. Sports Physiology, 2nd Edn.

Philadelphia, Saunders College Publishers. Howard, G. Knuttgen, J and Vogel, J.

1983. Biochemistry of Exercise, 5th Edn. Champaign, Human Kinetics Publishers.

Marieb, R. 1998. Human Anatomy and Physiology, 4th Edn. California, Benjamin
Cummings. McArdle, W. Katch, F and Katch, V. 1996. Exercise Physiology: Energy,
Nutrition and Human Performance, 4th Edn. Baltimore, Williams and Wilkins
Publishers. Sharkey, B. 1975. Physiology and Physical Activity, New York, Haper
and row Publishers. Strand, F. 1983. Physiology: A Regulatory Systems Approach,
2nd Edn. New York, MacMillian Pulishers. Weller, H. 1985. Basic Human
Physiology, Boston, Prindle, Weber and Schmidt Publishers.

Sports and Games