Can you use math to swim faster?

math and swimming

Christina Sng for Maths@Singapore

The answer is yes!

Swimming World College Intern Melissa Wolf reports in Swimming World that “Clock reading, counting, adding, multiplication and subtraction are all used almost every minute of practice and competition to give swimmers an evaluation of their speed and efficiency in the water…all of them use the basics of stroke count or cycle, tempo and underwater time.”

Credit must go to late Coach Bob Gillett, “who developed equations and implemented math into training his swimmers long before the tools we have now were available.”

How do swimmers utilize math in training?

Firstly, swimmers must be experts at using a clock to maintain their intervals and know their splits during practice. 

Secondly, swimmers learn when to leave the wall for the next rep to get the best results of their set.

Thirdly, swimmers can count how many times their arms cycle through the stroke or the number of underwater kicks they executed off the wall. 

Stroke counts tell swimmers how efficiently they move the water. Therefore, to be faster, swimmers must achieve a great distance per stroke. Counting strokes in practice keeps swimmers’ minds focused on what their body is doing at the moment.

Finally, swimmers can learn to increase the speed or tempo of their swim. One way is to practice golf in the pool.

Wolf concludes, “Simple math and hard work in the pool during practice can help swimmers find a way to drop significant amounts of time. Between using the clock, improving your efficiency to lower the stroke count and speeding up your tempo, you can find a way to use math to drop time in your swims.“

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Thanks to Brian Matangelo @bmatangelo for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

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