Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Urban Vitality

When swimming at the surface, swimmers will experience wave drag. It is observed that above a certain speed, wave height grows rapidly with further speed increase, suggesting that wave drag cannot be neglected at high speed. Therefore, the magnitude of this component of total drag was estimated.

Total drag was decomposed in 2 parts; wave and pressure drag. Assuming wave drag to be negligible below 1.6 m/s, the velocity dependence of pressure drag was assessed by drag determinations at speeds below 1.6 m/s. By subtracting the estimated pressure drag from total drag values measured at higher speeds, wave drag was estimated. At a mean speed of 1.89 m/s, mean wave drag was 11.5 N, amounting to 12.1 % of total drag. These results underline the importance of reducing wave drag by diving under the surface after start and turns.


Toussaint, H. M., van Stralen, M., & Stevens, E. 'Wave drag in front crawl swimming'. In: K. Gianikellis (Ed.), Scientific proceedings of the XXth International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports (pp. 279-282). Caceres: University of Extremadura, 2002.

Gepubliceerd door  Kenniscentrum Bewegen, Sport en Voeding 1 september 2002


sep 2002


Lector Huub Toussaint