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Analyzing Compression and Buoyancy in Technical Swimming Suits

[+] Author Affiliations
Lori M. Halvorson

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Paper No. IMECE2011-66275, pp. 1293-1298; 6 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 6: Fluids and Thermal Systems; Advances for Process Industries, Parts A and B
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5492-1
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


This study entailed a scientific assessment of popular speculations related to technical (i.e. competition) swimming suits. Specific issues addressed include the effects that buoyancy and compression have on reducing the cross-sectional area of a swimmer’s body and thus reducing the form resistance and increasing the velocity of a swimmer. Analyses in this study were done for competitive female swimmers wearing a range of different technical suits. Body compression by the suits was quantified using the percent reduction of the cross-sectional area of a swimmer with each suit. Several race times swam in international competitions corresponded with the relative percent velocity increase for the corresponding suit. The buoyancy of each technical swimming suit was analyzed by determining the volume of air voids in each suit and the density of each suit. The volume and densities were used to calculate the reduced cross-sectional area of a swimmer’s body interacting with the water and the relative velocity increase for the least dense suit. It was found that the Jaked brand suit was the least dense but the overall reduction in the cross-sectional area of the swimmer’s body due to the swimmer floating slightly higher in the water did not indicate a significant speed advantage.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
Topics: Buoyancy , Compression



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