Experimental and Numerical Investigation of the Unsteady Flow around a Human Underwater Undulating Swimmer

Part of the Notes on Numerical Fluid Mechanics and Multidisciplinary Design book series (NNFM, volume 119)


Underwater undulatory swimming describes one of the fastest modes of human aquatic locomotion. The human swimmer can be considered as natural paradigm for technical segmented linkage systems used in robotics that must compensate its anatomical limitations through sophisticated kinetics. In order to reveal and evaluate such mechanisms the flow around and behind the swimmer was measured by tim-resolved particle image velocimetry (TR-2D-PIV) and simulated by computational fluid dynamics (CFD). In comparison to fish, despite of joint asymmetries the swimmers used undulatory waves characterized by very similar absolute amplitude distributions along the body but at much higher Strouhal numbers. The observed 3D-patterns revealed in the CFD helps us to newly interpret experimental findings. Both the experimental flow field as well as that obtained from CFD document the effect of flow preformation and vortex re-capturing. We propose that the use of high Strouhal numbers facilitates the re-capture of vortices unavoidable due the disadvantageous geometry of the human swimmer.


Computational Fluid Dynamic Particle Image Velocimetry Vortex Ring Vortex Structure Swimming Speed 
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© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Sport Science, Motion ScienceFriedrich-Schiller-Universität JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Mechanics and Fluid DynamicsBergakademie TU FreibergFreibergGermany

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