Does using a swimming cap make a swimmer swim faster?Featured science projectScience project video

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Complexity level:
4
Project cost ($):
120
Time required:
It will take an hour to set up the experiment, and 3 hours to conduct it.
Material availability:
The swim caps can be purchased from a sports store.
Safety concerns:

Ensure that all of the participants are confident swimmers and have a life-guard on standby at all times.

Abstract

This experiment was done to investigate if using a swimming cap can help a swimmer swim faster.

Hypothesis

Using the swimming cap will help to increase the speed of the swimmer and he will be able to swim the 100m dash in a shorter time.

Background

The swimming cap

The type of swimsuit a swimmer wears is important. Whether or not a swimmer wears a swimming cap is an important consideration as it affects his performance. A cap protects a swimmer’s hair from the chlorine in the pool. But more importantly, it improves the performance of a swimmer because it reduces the amount of drag/resistance.

There are many designs of swimming caps. Caps come in all sizes and colors. They are normally made of polyester, latex, nylon, silicon or Lycra. Competitive swimmers usually wear latex caps because such caps fit the head snugly. Competitive swimmers who are allergic to latex materials can use silicone swimming caps. Although silicon swimming caps are more expensive than latex ones, they are more durable and last longer.

Some swimming caps come with a chin strap. Such caps are suitable for swimmers who have long hair. Wearing a cap will ensure that their hair does not shift while they swim. Insulated swimming caps should be used when swimming in cold water. Swimming caps help us to maintain our body temperature. They reduce fatigue and help prevent us from falling ill.
 

Scientific Terms

Drag, chlorine, latex, polyester, nylon, Lycra

Materials

The materials required for the experiment are as follows:

-    20 swimmers aged 15: 10 boys and 10 girls
-    an olympic size swimming pool
-    20 swimming caps
-    10 stopwatches
-    10 assistants

Procedure

1.    For this experiment, whether the swimmers swim with or without a cap is important, is the independent variable. The dependent variable is the amount of time the swimmers take to swim 100 meters. Measure this using a stopwatch. The constants (control variables) are to be the participants’ age, the distance they are to swim (100m), and the temperature of the water in the pool.

2.    Before the start of the test, participants are to wearing their swimsuit, shower and warm up. Then, they are to start swimming.

3.    Engage 10 assistants to record the amount of time the swimmers take to swim 100m. Each assistant is to take charge of 1 male and 1 female swimmer, and measure the amount of time they take to swim 100m.

4.    Participants are to first swim without caps. 10 boys are to swim first. Line them up in their starting positions. The assistants are to start the stopwatch when the whistle is blown. They are to stop the stopwatch once the participants complete to 100m and to record the participants’ timings in the table below.

5.    10 girls swim next, without wearing caps. Line them up in their starting positions. The assistants are to start the stopwatch when the whistle is blown. They are to stop the stopwatch once the participants complete to 100m and to record the participants’ timings in the table below.

6.    Let the participants rest for at least 2 hours. Repeat procedures number 4 and 5, but have the participants wear swimming caps.
 

Observation

The swimmers swam more quickly when they wore swim caps.

 swimming cap and speed science fair project

Use the graph below to plot your results.

swim cap science experiment

Conclusion

The hypothesis holds true: the participants swam faster when they wore caps. They swam more slowly when they did not wear caps.

A swimming cap is an important part of one's swimming attire. It improves the performance of a swimmer because it reduces the degree of drag on the swimmer. It also protects a swimmer’s hair from the chlorine in the pool and keeps a swimmer warm.

Also consider

Get participants to wear swimsuits that are made of different materials.

If your participants are game, have them shave the hair on their bodies (eg. armpits, legs, and observe the difference in results).

References

How to choose a cap and goggles for competitive swimming? - http://www.ehow.com/how_2318119_choose-cap-goggles-competitive-swimming.html

Competitive swimming caps - http://www.swim2000.com/page.php?p=competitive-swimming-caps
 

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