Research: Paddle vs. Propeller: Which Olympic Swimming Stroke is Superior?

According to the research from Johns Hopkins University, the deep catch is more effective than the high-elbow catch stroke.

A team supervised by a Johns Hopkins fluid dynamics expert has found that the deep catch stroke, resembling a paddle, has the edge over sculling, the bent-arm, propeller-inspired motion...

To obtain this result, Mittal’s team started with high-precision laser scans and underwater videos of elite swimmers. The researchers then used animation software to bend and otherwise change the shape of the static arm in such a way as to match the video sequence. This software allowed the researcher to insert a “joint” into the arm so that the limb could be moved in a realistic manner. The team then ran computer simulations to study the flow of fluid around the arm and the forces that acted upon the limb. Each simulation involved about 4 million degrees of freedom and required thousands of hours of computer processing time.

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