Ogita, F., Huang, Z., Kurobe, K., Ozawa, G., Taguchi, N., & Tanaka, T. (2010). Effects of swimwear developed in 2008 on drag during front crawl swimming. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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This study investigated the effect of types of swimwear developed in 2008 on drag during front crawl swimming. Well-trained male college swimmers (N = 8) used four different brands of swimwear; one was a conventional swimsuit (pants-short) and the others were three different pants-long swimsuits developed in 2008. Ss swam 25 m more than 10 times at different but constant swimming velocities successively wearing the swimsuits, in order to establish the drag-swimming velocity relationship for all the suits. The active drag force was directly measured during the arm stroke of front crawl swimming using a system of underwater push-off pads instrumented with a force transducer (Toussaint's MAD system).

Mean drag values were lowered by 1-5 N (2-6%) in the three new types of swimwear when compared to conventional wear, but the differences were not statistically significant [possibly because of the small number of Ss which lowered the power of the statistical analysis]. There were no significant differences in drag among three new types of swimwear. However, when race times in 100 m to 400 m were estimated based on the drag, metabolic power of each subject, and assumed mechanical (9%) and propelling efficiency (60%), time reductions in the one to four second range would be expected by wearing new types of swimwear.

Implication. When swimmers are taken as a group, there is no significant reduction in drag during front crawl swimming when conventional and 2008-developed swimsuits are compared. However, when the small differences are magnified over longer racing distances, a considerable competitive advantage is revealed.

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