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Types of Friction

Introduction to static, sliding, rolling, and fluid friction.

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What a Drag!

What a Drag!

Credit: jayhem
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jayhem/3601351382/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

When you’re swimming, the buoyant force of the water helps overcome the downward pull of gravity. As a result, you feel much lighter. But the water creates another problem for the swimmer. It’s called drag.

Why It Matters

  • Drag is a swimmer’s biggest enemy. Water is 700 times as dense as air, so it’s a lot harder to move your body through it. If you’ve ever tried to run through shallow water at a beach or pool, then you’ve experienced drag.
  • To be a champion swimmer, you need to know how to overcome drag.
  • Credit: Jim Bahn
    Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcwest/136945653
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    In order to swim against the drag, the swimmer cups her hands, creating thrust[Figure2]


  • What exactly is drag, and how can a swimmer overcome it?

Watch this video to find out: 



Show What You Know

At the link below, learn more about swimming and drag. Then answer the following questions. By clicking this link, you will leave the CK-12 site and open an external site in a new tab. This page will remain open in the original tab.

  1. Two key forces involved in swimming are thrust and drag. Define these two forces.
  2. Three types of drag work against a swimmer. Identify and describe the three types.
  3. How can a swimmer reduce drag?
  4. How does a swimmer create thrust?
  5. A swimmer can use her hands and arms to create lift, like the lift created by an airplane wing. In the case of a swimmer, however, the lift is created in a forward rather than upward direction. What technique allows the swimmer to create lift? How does this technique work?

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    Image Attributions

    1. [1]^ Credit: jayhem; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jayhem/3601351382/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
    2. [2]^ Credit: Jim Bahn; Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcwest/136945653; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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