Washington, May 17 : Coaches training U.S. Olympic team of swimmers these days have been taking inspiration from sharks and dolphins, says a report.
They have joined hands with researchers and other advisers to ensure that their athletes benefit from fish and marine mammals' natural swimming abilities, and swimming suits and strokes are being planned accordingly.
"Some of our athletes are now wearing what are called 'shark skin suits,'" Discovery News quoted Russell Mark, biomechanics coordinator for U.S.A. Swimming, as saying.
"These aren't made of actual shark skin, of course, but they are slippery in feel, like sharks, and they make the wearer move faster than normal in the water by reducing friction and drag," he added.
Mark also said that a swimmer's chances of winning or loosing hugely depend on how he/she perfects the dolphin kick.
"This is when swimmers push off walls and swim underwater without moving their arms, very similar to how a dolphin swims," he said.
The move emulates how dolphins zoom through water by moving their flipper in an up and down motion.
It begins when an individual raises the hips, and follows with a knee bend with flexed ankles.
The sequence minimizes water resistance, smoothly zooming the person forward.
"Our top swimmers -- Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, Ryan Lochte and others -- all excel at dolphin kicking. Phelps is among the best in the world and probably gets as close to anyone as also having a more shark-like finesse in the water," Mark said.
Rajat Mittal, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at George Washington University, recently worked with Mark to create a computer model of a dolphin to gain a deeper understanding of its movements.
He said that basic anatomical differences like lack of a totally flexible spine, joint structure, the nature of human musculature, and the need to frequently breathe keep humans way out of the range of shark and dolphin swimming records.
"To win, our Olympians must go all out and swim in what is essentially an inefficient manner. Dolphins and sharks, by contrast never compromise their speed with efficiency. They are truly among nature's best swimmers," Mittal said.