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This experiment was conducted to see how the type of swim cap
material affects the speed of a swimmer. If lycra, latex, and silicone
swim caps are pulled at a steady pace by a retractable chain then latex
will go .2 seconds faster than lycra and silicone because drag is caused
by friction which is two surfaces rubbing against each other. Also, latex
is smooth and hydrodynamic so it will slide through the water without
creating as much drag as silicone or latex. The last reason is many
Olympic swimmers wear latex swim caps and they would choose the
cap that helps them go the fastest (Latex Swim Caps). It was found
that the average time in seconds for lycra was 2.117 seconds, latex
was 1.353 seconds, and silicone was 1.47 seconds. Latex was the
fastest swim cap according to the averages. When the uncertainty was
added, the true value range for lycra was 1.292 to 1.942 seconds, for
latex it was 1.103 to 1.603 seconds, and for silicone it was 1.09 to 1.85
seconds. The data was converted to appear as if the swim caps had
been pulled across a 50-meter pool, which is an Olympic size pool. The
average time in seconds for lycra was 144.977 seconds, for latex it was
92.648 seconds, and for silicone it was 100.662 seconds. Using this
data, the latex swim cap was still the fastest. After accounting for
uncertainty, the true range value for lycra was 88.47 to 201.484
seconds, latex was 72.1 to 113.196 seconds, and silicone was 74.635
to 126.689 seconds. All three experimental groups overlapped, in the
original and converted data using the true value ranges. Since the
three groups overlapped there is no statistical difference. However, the
researcher believes that the data does somewhat support the
hypothesis if the best values are used. The uncertainty for the 50-
meter data is very large due to the fact that it was converted with the
rest of the data and is not accurate. The actual data that would be
collected in a 50-meter pool would not have nearly as much
uncertainty and it is possible that the data would not completely
There is information from another research project that explains
why the data in the experiment could be wrong. It also adds to the
information gathered about how drag and the shape of a swimmer
affect their performance. Another scientist did an experiment on the
types of waves and friction that affects Olympic swimmers. The
Olympic pool in Beijing was compared to the pool in Athens and how
the depth and waves slow a swimmer down. It was found that deeper
pool depths help a swimmer to create less drag and move through the
pool during a race while not being slowed down by the wakes of
others. There are two different waves that can slow a swimmer down.
There are bow waves and stern waves. The bow waves are at the front
of the swimmer and spread outward and toward the bottom of the pool
(Swarup). The stern waves are behind the swimmer and these waves
are what cause some of the drag a swimmer feels. The bow wave hits
the bottom of the pool and reflects back into the stern wave in a small
pool, causing more drag than normal (Swarup). One can infer from the
previous research and this experiment that the material that allows
water to flow over it with the least disturbance will decrease the size of
the bow wave. Once the bow wave is decreased then the stern wave
will not be as big. This means that when the bow wave hits the stern
wave, there will be less of a disturbance and less drag. The reason that
the swim caps would benefit a swimmer is that they would decrease
the drag acting on a swimmer. Drag is caused by friction; when two
surfaces rub against each other (Lafferty). Drag is when the fluid
particles stick to the object that is attempting to slide through them
(Science). There are three different types of friction. There is frictional
drag- when the water rubs against the swimmers body, form drag-
which is caused by the shape of the swimmer’s body, and wave drag-
the wake of the swimmers which must be swam through (Riordon).
Latex and silicone are made of smooth materials instead so that water
will roll right off of them instead of being absorbed. Lycra is made to be
very stretchy. It can stretch up to 600% and spring back without
loosing its shape, so it has to be more porous, and this lets more water
in (Parsons). However lycra is now used in swimsuits like the Speedo
LZR, which is worn by many Olympians. This suit is said to be skin tight
helping the water roll off instead of being absorbed. The difference
between the suit and the cap is that the cap is not mixed with nylon
like the suit is (Naughton).
The experiment could be better if it had taken place in a 50-
meter pool. That is the size of an Olympic pool so the data would be
more relevant to those in the real world. When the data was converted
to look as if it was from a 50-meter pool, the uncertainty had to be
converted as well making it inaccurate. The researcher could use
standard deviation in the future to help cut down on unrealistic results.
Also, more trials could have been done. This would help make the
uncertainty less since outliers would be removed and the data could be
statistically significant. Finally, a timing system could be used like
those in swim meets because they do not rely on human reaction time.
It is impossible that the watch was started and stopped at the same
time the cap was released. If a timing system were used then the
times would be more exact and not rely on the speed of a timer’s