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The main aim of this study was to investigate the effect of finger spread on the propulsive force production in swimming using computational fluid dynamics. Computer tomography scans of an Olympic swimmer hand were conducted. This procedure involved three models of the hand with differing finger spreads: fingers closed together (no spread), fingers with a small (0.32 cm) spread, and fingers with large (0.64 cm) spread. Steady-state computational fluid dynamics analyses were performed using the Fluent code. The measured forces on the hand models were decomposed into drag and lift coefficients. For hand models, angles of attack of 0°, 15°, 30°, 45°, 60°, 75°, and 90°, with a sweep back angle of 0°, were used for the calculations. The results showed that the model with a small spread between fingers presented higher values of drag coefficient than did the models with fingers closed and fingers with a large spread. One can note that the drag coefficient presented the highest values for an attack angle of 90° in the three hand models. The lift coefficient resembled a sinusoidal curve across the attack angle. The values for the lift coefficient presented few differences among the three models, for a given attack angle. These results suggested that fingers slightly spread could allow the hand to create more propulsive force during swimming.

Marinho is with the Department of Sport Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal, and the Centre of Research in Sports, Health, and Human Development, Vila Real, Portugal. Barbosa is with the Centre of Research in Sports, Health, and Human Development, Vila Real, Portugal, and the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Bragança, Portugal. Reis is with the Centre of Research in Sports, Health, and Human Development, Vila Real, Portugal, and the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Kjendlie is with the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway. Alves is with the Faculty of Human Kinetics, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal. Vilas-Boas is with the Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. Machado is with the Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. Silva is with the Centre of Research in Sports, Health, and Human Development, Vila Real, Portugal, and the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Rouboa is with the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal, and the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.