The Fundamental Physics of Swimming Essay

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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 c...

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... skills throughout our adolescence. The most common swimming techniques and or strokes include the: front crawl, back stroke, breaststroke, butterfly stroke, sidestroke and the dog paddle.

Koff, T., Matkovich, E., & McPhillips, K. (2004). Resistance, drag, and hydro-dynamics. Retrieved January 28, 2014, from
Kramer, M. (2012). How to swim like a champion (according to science). Retrieved January 29, 2014, from
Morouço, P., Keskinen, K. L., Vilas-Boas, J., & Fernandes, R. (2011). Relationship Between Tethered Forces and the Four Swimming Techniques Performance. Journal Of Applied Biomechanics, 27(2), 161-169.
Urone, P., P. (1986). Physics, with health science applications. John, Wiley, & Sons Inc.
New York, NY.

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