Flow Simulation, SOLIDWORKS, 3D CAD

A Day in the Life of a Swim Mom

By Patricia Bar on July 20, 2018

Being a swim mom, I spend a lot of time in places that are hot, humid and smell of chlorine. My daughter swims competitively year-round, so there is rarely a weekend where I am not sitting poolside, sweating while cheering her on. One thing that has always caught my attention, is the number of girls swimming with long hair. Olympic men shave their bodies to reduce drag, so what can a thin swim cap do to prevent drag for a girl with long hair? There also doesn't seem to be any reasoning behind where the lump of hair ends up on their head. This made the engineering side of my brain wake up and question if the location of the lump under the cap mattered at all.  

Setting Up My Experiment

I decided to use SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation to help conquer my curiosity, and maybe even give my daughter an edge in the pool. I started by downloading four shapes, a sphere for a bald head, and three other shapes that have a lump high on the "head," to the middle and finally to a lower position that would be close to the nape of the neck.

Bald Head SimulationHigh Hair Simulation Medium Hair SimulationLow Hair Simulation

Testing with SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation

After that, it was time to dive in. I split the model into a "face" and "cap" section to make the simulation as realistic as possible. I wanted to test the forces on the area representing the face. The bald head results settled around .7 lbs of force. Not bad!

Simulated force on a bald head

The second one with the "hair" high on the head appears to settle out around .36 lbs of force. Interesting…

Simulated force on the higher hair head

The hair in the middle gave results a little lower coming in at .3 lbs of force.

Simulated force on middle hair head

Does this mean my last run with the lowest hair will give me the best results? Nope. We ended up at .77 lbs of force. 

Simulated force on lowest hair head

Flow Simulation Results

So, who is going to be winning the race? According to these results, it looks like the hair being higher is better, but for first place make sure you look more like a shark than a unicorn! Maybe Mother Nature knows best, as we all know they are excellent swimmers! That being said, to get the most accurate results, I need to do more refinement. 

I also wanted to make a note that I am not a flow expert, not even close. Using this part of the SOLIDWORKS Suite was new for me, and I wanted to see if it was as easy to use as people boasted about (spoiler: it was!). The Study Wizard was truly magic when talking me through setting up the study.

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