Passive drag is still a good evaluator of swimming aptitude

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1990;59(6):399-404. doi: 10.1007/BF02388619.


The passive drag (Dp) of 218 competitive swimmers was studied and related to their performance level. To study this relationship, specific attention was given to anthropometric and joint laxity (JL) variations. The Dp was measured at 1.40 m.s-1, using a mechanical winch and a strain gauge with a load cell connected to a strain bridge. Swimmers were towed in a prone position holding their breath after a maximal inspiration. Buoyancy was evaluated by the hydrostatic lift (HL), i.e., the maximal weight just necessary to maintain the swimmer in a balanced position under the water after a maximal inspiration. The JL was assessed by a standard scoring system. The Dp was related mainly to the surface area (SA) (r = 0.73 and 0.53; P less than 0.01, for males and females, respectively). For a given SA, Dp was inversely related to the performance level. The JL explained 7% of the variability of Dp. On average, Dp measured after a maximal expiration, increases of about 22% SD 3% (P less than 0.01). This increase was related to individual vital capacities (r = 0.86, P less than 0.01). As Dp was mainly related to SA and HL, it is suggested that the body exerts a large pressure effect on the water. The contribution to performance might be related to the gliding phase of swimming.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Surface Area
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology*
  • Male
  • Swimming*