What a drag: tackling the swimmer's invisible enemy.
Drag can be a downer - a waste of energy, literally and figuratively - but tackling it head on is one way to make it your secret weapon and FINIS wants to help competitive swimmers do just that.
Many people think of this invisible enemy as friction that slows you down as you swim but there’s a bit more to it. Getting to grips with drag is one way to get the jump on faster lap times. Elite swimmers always strive to reduce drag for the simple reason that cutting down drag means swimming faster and also swimming more efficiently. Win win!
So, let's take it from the top. Water is 1000 times more resistant than air. That sounds like a crazy overstatement but think about how hard it is to walk across a swimming pool versus walking the same distance on land. When in water, drag is the resistance that water exerts on your body as you move. There are two phases of drag, sometimes called passive drag and active drag. Passive drag is the resistance a swimmer meets when they swim forward. Active drag is the resistance a swimmer exerts.
Has a coach or team-mate told you to swim high in the water and imagine you are shaped like an arrow? Both help dial down drag. There are three main types of water resistance that affect swimmers:
* Form resistance: this is water resistance that is related to your body position as you swim
* Wave resistance: the resistance caused by turbulence at the water surface
* Friction resistance: the resistance caused by contact of skin, gear and hair in water.
One way to get a handle on the relationship between position and drag is to place your hand in water then move it back and forward. You will feel a slight resistance. Now, turn your hand so it is at an angle and try the same thing. You will feel different resistance due to the angle of your hand in the water. This simple demo highlights how optimum position in the water is one smart way to make it easier to move through the water and therefore swim faster.How else can you fight these forces? Well, elite swimmers ditch drag through better technique. Streamlining (the arrow idea) can have a significant effect on drag reduction because it minimizes your surface area in the water, which in turn increases speed. Tactical swimmers also aim for a high body position as water at the surface of pool is less resistant than water deeper down. And of course there are super simple weapons like caps - they reduce friction and resistance by simply making your head a smooth surface and many swimmers remove body hair for the same reason.
Had enough amateur science talk? Let’s level up and talk high-tech tools designed to out-smart drag one nano-second at a time. Olympians and elite swimmers are constantly testing out different tech suits, and many have broken records wearing them. They compress and streamline the body, while allowing muscles to work more efficiently. They also have "internal core stabilizers" that help swimmers stay in the best position even as their muscles get taxed.
Most tech suits are made of water-repellent fabric. Our Rival 2.0 features a new, fabric called Shield-Tech™. Developed using a unique weave-method, Shield-Tech™ gives our race suits the perfect combination of durability and flexibility. The fabric is engineered so that it retains a small amount of water to reduce friction.
So what makes the 2.0 a drag-buster?
1) Tough tech fabric
FINIS Shield-Tech™ has been developed using a unique weave method for extra strength. It features multi-directional stretch properties that move with the body.
2) Optimised glide
FINIS Shield-Tech™ fabric retains a very small amount of water. This creates a shield-like effect that helps reduce friction.
3) Vertical chest seam
A new vertical chest seam has been added to FINIS Rival 2.0 kneeskins to provide compression and prevent air pockets. It forms part of a complete compression system which also includes oblique and lower abdomen seams that provides compression for the entire core.
4) Extra compression and lift
FINIS have added new seams to the back of the legs on the Rival 2.0 jammers. These seams increase compression, while helping to lift the legs to the surface and locking the swimmer into the perfect body position.
5) Single-layered inner thigh panels
Both FINIS Rival 2.0 jammers and kneeskins have inner thigh panels to enhance comfort and flexibility, no matter which stroke you swim.
FINIS Olympic swimmers Olivia Smoliga, Anthony Ervin and James Guy have played a key role in the development of this next-generation suit at the FINIS Stroke Lab in California. Here's their thoughts on the tech suits they help build:
James Guy: "When you dive in, you definitely feel the freshness in your legs, because of the compression and tightness of the suit - it's like your legs are floating."
Olivia Smoliga: "With the way the seam wraps around the inner thigh, I feel like it brings a snap to my dolphin kick that really helps you at the end of a race."
Anthony Ervin: "The material is new, it's strong, it's flexible. It should really aid you staying tight and closed from the start of your race to the finish."
Mallory Weggemann: "The seam structure keeps the whole body position together in the water, and so it really helps your back and core feel higher in the water."