This study investigated the influence of the covering swimsuit and the fabric surface properties on the butterfly stroke kinematics. Surface properties were evaluated by wetting measurements of two fabric samples: one for training suits and one for competition suits. The surface of the second one was coated by mechanochemical treatment in order to modify its surface properties. Nine national level swimmers performed a 50-m butterfly at submaximal velocity in three swimsuit conditions: conventional, long, and coated long swimsuits. From video recording, the hip was digitized at the entry and exit of the swimmer's hand in order to calculate the duration, hip displacement, and hip linear velocity during underwater and recovery phases and during stroke. The results for wetting show that competition fabric was more water-repellent than training fabric, but both were isotropic. Moreover, the mechanochemical treatment increased water repellency and anisotropy. The swimming results indicated that, when compared to a conventional swimsuit, wearing a coated long swimsuit increased hip linear velocity during stroke, and particularly during the recovery phase which had a shorter duration. These results suggest that the covering swimsuit should be coupled with the water repellent and anisotropic properties of the fabric surface in order to improve swimming performance.
Center for Sport Research and Innovation, UFR STAPS
Analytical Sciences Laboratory, UMR 5180, University Claude Bernard Lyon I, 27-29 Blvd du 11 Novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.