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Optimal Swimming Modes of a Homo-Sapien Performing Butterfly-Stroke Kick

[+] Author Affiliations
Mark W. Pitman, Anthony D. Lucey

Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA, Australia

Paper No. PVP2006-ICPVT-11-93938, pp. 745-752; 8 pages
  • ASME 2006 Pressure Vessels and Piping/ICPVT-11 Conference
  • Volume 9: 6th FSI, AE and FIV and N Symposium
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada, July 23–27, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-47888 | eISBN: 0-7918-3782-3
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


This paper outlines the development and application of a computational method that finds the most efficient two-dimensional swimming mode of a human performing fully submerged butterfly-stroke kick at high Reynolds number. The optimal solution of this non-linear problem is found using a Genetic Algorithm (GA) search method where possible solutions compete in a ‘survival of the fittest’ scheme to ‘breed’ the optimal solution. The swimming is modelled using Discrete Vortex Method (DVM) and Boundary Element Method (BEM) computational techniques. The BEM solves for the inviscid flow field around the two-dimensional body while the shedding of vorticies from joints where the curvature is high (ie. knee, waist and ankle joints) generate the vortex structures necessary for propulsion. The motion of the limbs is characterised by a displacement function which includes the possibility for simple harmonic or non-harmonic motion with a ‘rest’ period in the kick. The finite number of joints means that a finite length parameter set can be developed which characterises the motion of the swimming body. This parameter set is fed into the GA to perform the optimisation based on a scoring function. In this case, the scoring function is simply the distance that the body swims in a set amount of time. The objective of the GA is to maximise this score for a set kicking frequency. This method opens a wider possibility for optimisation of a variety of systems that involve fluid-structure interactions, particulary the possibility of optimisation in the non-linear regime of prescribed motion coupled with compliant surfaces (such as rubbery flippers) that could further increase efficiency.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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