European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 195–205 | Cite as

Active and passive drag: the role of trunk incline

Original Article


The aim of this study was to investigate the role of trunk incline (TI) and projected frontal area (A eff) in determining drag during active/passive measurements. Active drag (D a) was measured in competitive swimmers at speeds from 0.6 to 1.4 m s−1; speed specific drag (D a/v 2 ) was found to decrease as a function of v (P < 0.001) to indicate that the human body becomes more streamlined with increasing speed. Indeed, both A eff and TI were found to decrease with v (P < 0.001) whereas C d (the drag coefficient) was found to be unaffected by v. These data suggest that speed specific drag depend essentially on A eff. Additional data indicate that A eff is larger during front crawl swimming than during passive towing (0.4 vs. 0.24 m2). This suggest that D a/v 2 is larger than D p/v 2 and, at a given speed, that D a is larger than D p.


Swimming Hydrodynamic resistance Projected frontal area Drag coefficient 



We would like to thank all the swimmers for their patience and kind cooperation and Dr. Fabio Pizzolato for his help in the statistical analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Zamparo
    • 1
    • 4
  • G. Gatta
    • 2
  • D. Pendergast
    • 3
  • C. Capelli
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche e della VisioneVeronaItaly
  2. 2.Facoltà di Scienze MotorieUniversità di BolognaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Department of PhysiologyNY University at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  4. 4.Facoltà di Scienze MotorieUniversità di VeronaVeronaItaly

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