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Fluid Biomechanics

• The study of forces that develop

when an object moves through a
fluid medium.

• Two fluids of interest

• Water

• Air
Fluid forces
• Four major fluid forces of interest:
• Weight

• Buoyant Force

• Drag

• Lift

• Other Forces

• Equilibrium:
• weight of object = buoyant force
• Floatation:
• specific gravity < 1
• weight of object < max. buoyant force
• Specific gravity:
S = Wbody

• Center of buoyancy:
The point that is CG of volume of water
equal to the volume and shape of the
submerged body

CB is closer to the chest region

CG is closer to the pelvic region
True sinker
Buoyant Force
• Archimedes’ Principle:
• Object in a fluid is acted on a buoyant force.

• buoyant force = weight of the fluid displaced by

the object

“A body that is partially or totally immersed in

a fluid will experience an upward buoyant
force that is equal to the weight of the
volume of fluid displaced by that body”
Center of buoyancy &
swimming performance
Vwater = +10
Vboat –Vwater = 0 – 10 = –
Vwater = +10
Vboat –Vwater = 10 – 10 = 0
Vwater =0
Vboat –Vwater = 10 – 0 = 10
Drag Force
• Along the direction of motion
• Opposite of relative flow
• Slows down the speed
• Resistance
• Affected by cross-section area
• Affected by surface smoothness

FD = ½ CDAρ V2
Skin Friction / Surface Drag
• Boundary layer: layer of affected
• Depends on
• relative velocity
• surface area
• smoothness of surface
• fluid (viscosity)
• fabric (swim suit), shaving body in
Profile Drag/Form Drag

• Due to separation of the fluid

from the boundary of the object
• Eddy currents

• Pressure gradient

• Streamlining
Profile Drag/Form Drag

• depends on
• cross-section
• shape of the body
• smoothness of the surface
• bicyclist in upright v. crouched position
Wave Drag
• Resistance at the interface, due to wave
• Perpendicular to the direction of motion
• Created by different pressures on opposite
sides of an object due to fluid flow past the

• Bernoulli’s principle: velocity is inversely

proportional to pressure
Bernoulli’s Law

“Where the flow velocity is fast, the

pressure is low; where the flow
velocity is slow, the pressure is high”

FL = ½ CLAρ V2
Effect of Lift in Sport
Variables influencing aerodynamic
lift force
• Angle of Projection; angle between
horizontal and CG of projectile
• Line of Flight
• Attitude Angle; angle between horizontal
and long axis of projectile
Effect of Lift in Sport

• Center of Pressure
• Angle of Attack at Release; angle
between projectile’s long axis and
projection angle
The Magnus Effect

• The Magnus effect

describes the curved

path that is observed

by spinning

The Magnus Effect

• Explained by
Bernoulli’s principle
and the pressure
differences caused
by relative
differences in flow
Top Spinning

• Velocity of superior boundary

layer decrease
• Velocity of inferior boundary
layer increase
• NET Force; Downward
Back Spinning
• Velocity of superior boundary layer
• Velocity of inferior boundary layer
• NET Force; upward
• Rebound

Side Spinning
• Lt. spin
Rt. side – low pressure zone
Lt. side – high pressure zone
NET Force; to Rt. side

• Rt. Spin
Lt. side – low pressure zone
Rt.side – high pressure zone
NET Force; to Lt. side