How do the outfits that competitive Olympic swimmers wear allow them to swim faster? Would they not swim faster if they were completely naked?


How do the outfits that competitive Olympic swimmers wear allow them to swim faster? Would they not swim faster if they were completely naked?

In: Engineering

Olimpic swimmers wear sleek, often spandex/rubber clothing because it doesnt cause any drag. When you swim, everything on your body has to push against the water. So if you cover your hair (swim caps) and genitalia (pants of any form) the water can more easily glide across your body with less resistance. On top of that… do you reall wanna see a bunch of wet, naked guys in the olimpics? On second thought. Dont answer that.

Lower friction to the water vs human skin. Humans have curves and angles that get smoothed out by a tight suit. And as for swimming naked, there’s some floppy bits that would create drag.

it’s all about reducing the amount of drag caused by moving through water, and also suits can help create more steamlined (like being more aerodynamic but in water). i mean having a 6 pack can cause you to be less streamlined vs someone with a smooth stomach but no six pack. the margins are tiny, but at the olympic level its all about min/maxing.

and also, your body organs can also swing around and cause drag. so one thing suits do is keep those in check. also body hair and hair causes drag, and not everyone wants to be completely shaven. so a suit helps with that as well. the friction from water/skin contact can be slightly higher than the friction from water/artificial material contact. the suits can also be semi rigid and you can create patterns or ripples in the material that would cause it to be more streamlined

So there are swimsuits that reduce the friction between the swimmer and the water (drag) way more than your skin alone can. They even reduce little whirlpools (vortices) that the water makes when you move/it flows over you.

These also smooth out the “bumps” (i.e. genitals, boobs, fat pockets) in the body to present a smoother surface for the water to flow over.

Finally, there are swimsuits made so that water doesn’t get between the suit and your skin, so just the fact you’re wearing something doesn’t slow you down.

SO between those factors, it’s faster to wear a swimsuit than be naked.

Runners need to have friction under their feet in order to push off against the ground in order to move forward. The soles of the shoes provide additional friction with the ground in order to transfer more force in forward movement. The shoes also provide comfort and protection from the intense training an athlete performs. Additional benefits can be made depending on the length of the race, the terrain of the race, and the attributes of the individual athlete.

The swimsuit provides the optimum friction in the water, protection from the elements, and added comfort like the running shoes. In addition, the suit also reduces drag from hydrodynamic forces that the human body produces.

edit: forgot the simile between the running shoes and swimsuit.