Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Turbulator' Technology Reduces Drag, Improve Swimmers' Time

Date:
February 3, 2004
Source:
University At Buffalo
Summary:
Scientists in the Center for Research and Education in Special Environments at the University at Buffalo have a patent pending on a structural element that can improve a swimmer's time by decreasing the force water exerts on swimmers, called "drag," by 10 percent when incorporated into the swimsuit design.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The difference between finishing first and coming in second in competitive swimming is measured in milliseconds, so when a swimmer's technique and fitness is as good as it gets, a coach turns to one remaining variable to sharpen the competitive edge -- the swimsuit.

In that scenario, scientists in the Center for Research and Education in Special Environments at the University at Buffalo (UB) may be a coach's best friends. They have a patent pending on a structural element that can improve a swimmer's time by decreasing the force water exerts on swimmers, called "drag," by 10 percent when incorporated into the swimsuit design.

The new element, which the researchers call a turbulator, alters the fluid dynamics of water as it flows over and around the swimmer. How drag acts on a body moving through water plays an important role in the amount of energy a competitor must exert to cover a specific distance: less drag, less energy required, quicker finish.

Trials of suits incorporating the turbulator into their fabric, conducted at UB over two years, showed that adding the element could improve a swimmer's time by 3 percent, said David Pendergast, Ed.D., UB professor of physiology and biophysics. Pendergast and Joseph Mollendorf, Ph.D., UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, were senior researchers on the project.

TYR, the company that has licensed the technology and named it "Aqua Shift(tm)," will introduce its new line of competition suits incorporating turbulators to the swimming world today (Jan. 30, 2004) at the FINA World Cup Swimming meet. The competition is being held at the Nassau (N.Y.) Aquatics Center.

The team of UB inventors who developed the technology will be at the launch of the new suit to discuss the underlying science and the performance trials conducted in the UB center's facilities.

The turbulator's science is grounded in the research team's earlier work in fluid dynamics and its

success in decomposing drag, breaking it into its component forces. "No one else had done that before," Pendergast said.

"We discovered there are three types of drag. Friction drag, the force of water molecules as they pass over the body, is dependent on how long the body is. Pressure drag, the strongest force, results from pushing the water out of the way. Wave drag occurs at relatively high speeds and is the force exerted by waves created."

When the researchers broke drag into its three components, they found that pressure and friction drag exerted the highest influences, said Pendergast. Their next question was: How can drag be reduced?

Their first inclination was to change the surface of the swimsuit fabric, but that approach didn't reduce drag significantly. Enter the turbulator, a strategically placed fabric-encased flexible tube that introduces a raised ridge on the suit. Pendergast describes how this element improves the fluid dynamics of a swimmer.

"When water hits the shoulders of a swimmer, it separates from the body, which creates drag. By adding a turbulator, we cause water to follow the body instead of separating from it. This change increases friction drag, but reduces pressure drag. We found that placing a turbulator on the front and back of a suit significantly reduced pressure drag, overcoming the increased friction drag and adding a competitive advantage"

Meanwhile, TYR had approached Albert (Budd) Termin, II, UB's swimming coach, whose swimmers compete in the company's suits, about working on reducing drag. Termin has collaborated extensively with Pendergast and Mollendorf on improving swimming efficiency.

Over a two-year period, the team tested 20 suit models incorporating the turbulator for TYR at the Center for Research and Education in Special Environments. The trials took place in the center's special annular (doughnut-shaped) pool designed for conducting a variety of specialized research, including measuring drag and other hydrodynamic properties, and in UB's competition pool.

"The work was part theory and part practice," said Pendergast. "It turned out the size of the turbulator was crucial. We'd predict how a certain size and placement would respond, TYR would build the suit, and we tested and retested."

The final design incorporates a series of turbulators positioned on the suit front, across the shoulders and across the hips. (UB research on suit design had shown that suits that cover the swimmer from shoulder to knee or ankle produce less drag than suits with less coverage.)

Yana Klochkova, who won two gold medals for Ukraine in the 2000 Olympics and is sponsored by TYR, will model the new suit at the Jan. 30 unveiling.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University At Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University At Buffalo. "'Turbulator' Technology Reduces Drag, Improve Swimmers' Time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040202070727.htm>.
University At Buffalo. (2004, February 3). 'Turbulator' Technology Reduces Drag, Improve Swimmers' Time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040202070727.htm
University At Buffalo. "'Turbulator' Technology Reduces Drag, Improve Swimmers' Time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040202070727.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins