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Designing the Optimum Swim Stroke
Posted Tue November 20, 2001 @09:39AM
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Application Researchers at USA Swimming have been using FLUENT to model the flow around the hand and forearm of a swimmer during the propulsive phases of the freestyle and butterfly strokes. The program aims to determine the optimum swim stroke to provide maximum propulsive performance for elite swimmers.

During the initial stage of the investigation, researchers sought to determine the steady-state lift and drag coefficients for the hand and arm. The model for these simulations used k-epsilon turbulence modeling with non-equilibrium wall functions. Adaptive meshing was utilized to increase solution accuracy.

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The force coefficients were determined for a range of angles of attack from -15 to 195 degrees and for various freestream turbulence levels. The results compared well with values determined experimentally using wind tunnel, tow tank, and water flume testing.

Flow pathlines show significant boundary layer separation and turbulence (courtesy Fluent, Inc.)

Although the hand has been compared to an airfoil, the CFD results show that the aerodynamic efficiency of the hand is significantly less than airfoil of similar aspect ratio. The CFD model shows the flow field around the hand and arm to be highly three-dimensional with significant boundary layer separation. Large vortices spiral off the downstream side of the fingertips in a manner similar to the flow near wingtips.

The second phase of the project will assess the effects of acceleration and deceleration on the propulsive forces generated during the swim stoke.

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