How Much Does Your Hand Help?


| 4 Comments

I've always found an interest in swimming and our discussion in class on pruney hands somehow made me curious about webbed hands and swimmers. I've always wondered if having webbed hands would help someone swim faster and easier. Finding this answer proved to be much more difficult than expected. An article on livescience.com helped me come to a conclusion on this topic in a much unexpected way.

http://www.livescience.com/21309-fastest-swimmers-physics-hands.html

At the beginning of the article, I expected it to go on about how much faster swimmers would be if they had webbed hands. The article quickly goes into how the swimmers use their hands and slightly separating their fingers when they swim to create a water web between their fingers. The article states that, "In human swimmers, the invisible web of water allows them not to propel themselves faster, but to better lift themselves out of the water. That's where the speed comes from."

This is a very interesting concept to think about and as I quickly looked through Google images of swimmers, like Michael Phelps, I realized that this concept might be true. All the swimmers appear to be skimming the water with their fingers separated. While this article brings up some very good points, I still wonder if having actual webbed fingers would increase your speed even more significantly. I think the article should have done some more research into people with webbed fingers versus not to see if there is any difference in swim times. 

The many benefits of swimming

4 Comments

I used to swim in high school and it always amazed me to see what other swimmers would do to shave off just .01 of a second because in swimming that can determine who wins the race. From shaving every hair on their body to wearing full body swimming suits they wanted to be as fast as possible. I know having webbed hands or feet would be one of trait many swimmers would want to acquire. At the website below you can follow the link to a product swimmers can use to have webbed feet therefore making them faster swimmers although it may not be legal to compete with such as in the Olympics. But in all reality a great swimmer doesn't need webbed feet or hands to be the best because like Michael Phelps an individual needs to have the body built for swimming. With long legs, feet, arms and large hands a perfect body for swimming can be determined. It’s the large hands that give these swimmers the advantage over others. The large hands swimmers have let them water grasp.
Webbed Hand Glove: http://mewanty.net/silicone-webbed-fingers/

I thought that this was a really interesting post to read. I had a lot of friends that were swimmers in high school and I wonder if they knew about this. I'm curious to know if swim coaches will teach their swimmers to separate their fingers to shave off time from their races. Is separating fingers common knowledge among swimmers or is it just something that the professionals do? The physics behind swimming are really interesting to me because I feel like there are so many different things that swimmers can do that cut off time.

After reading this article, I was curious as to what type of fish was the fastest. I found that the Sailfish is actually one of, if not the fastest fish in the ocean. These fish are short distance swimmers, and can travel at about 68 mhp. The reason these fish are so fast is their large dorsal fin and spear-like upper jaw. I wonder if the dorsal fin works similarly to webbed fingers and toes, by cutting through the water and increasing ones time. The exact reasoning behind why these fish are so fast is actually unknown, but if the link below explains these fish in more detail.

http://www.factzoo.com/fish/sailfish-fastest-swimming-animal.html

I used to swim when I was younger but not anymore but know many people who still do and have brought this topic up. It is clear to see in champion swimmers like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte the widespread fingers they swim with and how it lifts them up and out. I am sure there are swimmers with webbed hands out there but I wonder how successful they are. It'd be interesting to see them swim against non-webbed swimmers. Overall I think it's an interesting subject that not many people think of.

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