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Exploring Hydrodynamics- Pressure and Buoyancy in Olympic- Swimming

Exploring Hydrodynamics- Pressure and Buoyancy in Olympic- Swimming

Sports activities are affected by numerous forces depending on the activity. One such activity that is affected by numerous forces involves movement through fluids. The movement through fluids includes moving through air and water (Week 8 Lecture Notes). Several factors influence biomechanical forces in fluids, including hydrostatic pressure, buoyant force, drag and lift forces, environmental conditions, and the Magnus effect. Most of these factors are underplay in the Olympic games, which have sports activities involving air and water; an example of an Olympic event involving movement through water is swimming.

Freestyle Races

There are several competitions in swimming, including freestyle races. The Olympic freestyle races are competitions where swimmers swim over different distances: 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m, and they are free to use any swimming techniques. Depending on the distance of the competition, different swimmers can apply different techniques. Gonjo and Olstad (2020) position that when it comes to swimming races, various factors are considered in the competition, including; finishing time, turning, lap time, and reaction time, and additionally, given the regulations mandated, swimmers depend on their skills and swimming strategies. The swimming speed is determined by stroke length and stroke rate multiplication. The stroke rate is obtained from the number of complete stroke cycles in a minute, and the stroke length involves the distance covered in that cycle. One Olympic swimming competition that shows factors influencing movement through water is the 1500m swimming race, and the ways the movement is affected involve the athlete’s body’s ability to float, the athlete’s body positioning, and the pace.

Pressure and Buoyancy

There are numerous factors influencing movement in the water. These factors include hydrostatic pressure, buoyant force, drag and lift forces, and environmental conditions. Additionally, these factors affect movement by affecting an athlete’s ability to float, body positioning, and pace. Hydrostatic pressure is a factor affecting movement through water. Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure exerted by a fluid to support its weight (Burkett, 2018). When a swimmer is immersed in water, the water exerts an upward force created by the displaced water’s mass, creating buoyancy for the immersed body. The body positioning is affected by pressure, and swimmers must maintain a horizontal and streamlined body position to ensure that the body is parallel to the direction of water movement. The angling of legs and arms while positioning a body is important for athletes depending on their body fat.

Buoyancy is a factor affecting movement through water. Buoyancy enables the swimmer to float, influencing their movement in the water. As aforementioned, the hydrostatic pressure creates buoyancy, and the factors affecting buoyancy are; the athlete’s body fat, water density, and water temperature. Buoyancy affects the swimmer’s body’s floatation in water, and swimmers must maintain a horizontal body position to ensure they do not sink (Burkett, 2018). A sinking body will experience greater pressure as the pressure increases the deeper an object goes into the water. Accordingly, the deeper a body goes in a fluid, the greater the pressure and the buoyant force pushing the object to float.

Drag and lift forces are factors affecting movement through water as they influence propulsive force. Drag force opposes the movement of a swimmer’s body in the water, and it is influenced by the athlete’s size, fluid type, temperature, and density (Week 8 Lecture Notes). The motion affected by drag is the movement of the body, and to experience minimum drag, swimmers must maintain a streamlined body position (Burkett, 2018). The lift force, which moves upwards towards the dragline, is also influenced by the position of the swimmer’s body in the water. The body positioning is relevant because the water pattern changes with the position. Certain movements in water will influence the propulsive lifting force to push the body through the water, such as butterfly stroke.

Pacing is affected by both pressure and drag and lift forces. Drag force slows a swimmer down and determines how fat a swimmer completes a competition. In the 1500 m freestyle swimming race, the pace varies from the start and last laps, with a higher velocity in these two laps while a bit slower in the middle laps (Lara & Del Coso, 2021). Drag forces and water pressure influence pace as the resistance to movement through water slows down swimmers.

In conclusion, numerous factors affect the ways bodies move through the water. Water has numerous properties that affect movement through it, including hydrostatic pressure, buoyant force, and drag and lift forces. These properties affect the body’s ability to float, which is affected by hydrostatic pressure and buoyant force that cause buoyancy while swimming. The properties also affect the body’s positioning, which is expected to be horizontal and streamlined; water pressure affects this positioning while moving through it. Finally, these properties affect the pace during movements in water, as drag forces and pressure influence propulsive forces that interfere with velocity. Freestyle swimming races such as the 1500m freestyle race illustrate the ways movement through water is affected by its properties.


Burkett, B. (2018). Applied Sport Mechanics. 4th Edition. Human Kinetics.

Gonjo, T., & Olstad, B. H. (2020). Race analysis in Competitive Swimming: A Narrative review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(1), 69.

Lara, B., & Del Coso, J. (2021). Pacing Strategies of 1500 m Freestyle Swimmers in the World Championships According to Their Final Position. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(14), 7559.

Professor. (n.d.). Week 8 Lecture Notes. Lecture.


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Week 8 Assignment:
Research an example of an Olympic event involving movement through water and describe three ways that movement is influenced by pressure and buoyancy.

Exploring Hydrodynamics- Pressure and Buoyancy in Olympic- Swimming

Exploring Hydrodynamics- Pressure and Buoyancy in Olympic- Swimming

Be sure to explain the specific motions and skills that the forces are affecting. (please include reference from the reading assignment and lecture notes below)

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