Departmental Honors Project Title

Hydrodynamic Forces Acting on a Moving Hand

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Type

Honors Project


College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Kevin Stanley


The greatest amount of direct propulsion during swimming comes from the force exerted by the hand. It is possible for a swimmer to create a higher effective surface area of the hand by slightly spreading their fingers during the pull phase of the stroke. This phenomenon occurs because of the dynamic forces acting on the hand while it moves through the water. This investigation explores and compares how computational and experimental results suggest the occurrence of this phenomena. This is done first with a simple model of the four fingers (not including the thumb), held with different separations (0.0cm, 0.2cm, 0.3cm, 0.5cm, 1.0cm, 1.5cm) between them. Analysis is done using pressure differences, and drag force, and drag coefficients with ANSYS Fluent. These results are compared to values derived from experiments. Evidence of this phenomenon is found when small spacing is present during experiments in the water tank and confirmed by the computational results. This work is then extended to a study of a reconstructed 3D image of a hand. The effect the implementation of this technique during swimming is also considered.