For those who've taken swimming as a hobby or a profession, findings in a new study says you can fine tune your swimming techniques by just spreading your fingers.
Small tweaks in your techniques and style may count in getting you to swim faster. It was found out that just a little fix gets your speed revved up a little faster after some testing with the scientists. The physics experts have proven that spreading your fingers in freestyle swimming can make you swim faster than just holding your fingers together.
There are four phases in freestyle swimming: catch phase, pull phase, exit phase and the recovery phase. The catch phase is the phase when your hand enters the water. The pull phase is when you move your arm through the water. The exit is when you pull your arm out of the water. The recovery is when you lift your arm in the air towards the front of your body to restart the swimming cycle.
It's about time to learn the spread
Physicists from Eindhoven University of Technology and Delft University of Technology worked on the possibility of tweaking the pull phase and knowing whether stroke efficiency could be achieved by spreading the fingers. They used 3D-printed plastic hand and arm models to measure the swim speed with these fingers spread apart: pointer, index, ring, and pinkie fingers. They measured the drag of arm models with increasing finger spreading in a wind tunnel instead of a pool to avoid the effect of surface waves.
That's more like it.
The researchers compared the swim speed when fingers were spread apart by 0°, 5°, 10°, 15°, or 20° while keeping the thumb in a constant standard position. They found out that the 10° spread created the most drag or water resistance because the slight opening between the fingers still obstructed the flow of air. The more the swimmer has a stronger resistance to push against, the more the propulsion moves the swimmer forward. The 10° spread speeds up the swim by 2.5% and that is translated into several tenths of a second. That speed is a huge margin considering that it was only 0.02 seconds margin that won the 2016 Summer Olympics 50-meter women’s freestyle race.
We're not trying to make a Michael Phelps out of you, but if you're someone who wants to get to his top speed just spreading your finger a little wider does not require threshold days right? Just spread the damn fingers and be an anchor.