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The more skin covered by the suit, the less skin drag.
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The speed at which the average human can swim depends on many factors, such as the condition of the swimmer, the swim stroke, whether the swimmer is swimming on top or under the water and, in the case of open water, whether you are working with or against the current. A swimmer with average skills can move approximately two miles an hour, according to the Channel Swimming Association.
Men swim an average of 10 percent faster than women, according to a 2007 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine. Therefore, if you're a man, you could swim faster than a woman with comparable skills and conditions. Regardless of your gender, improving your stroke rate, kick and coordination will propel you though the water faster, improving your average swim time, according to the Swim Smooth website.
Drag and Resistance
Drag and resistance affect your speed in the water, according to the "Swimming Science Bulletin." Swimming under the water is faster than swimming on top of the water because you have less resistance and drag underneath. Competitive swimmers are banned from taking advantage of this fact after the first 15 meters of any FГ©dГ©ration Internationale de Natation (FINA) sanctioned races such as the Olympics, according to The Wall Street Journal. Multiple types of drag can slow a swimmer down, such as spray drag caused by water kicked by the swimmer, wave drag caused by waves and skin friction drag caused by the friction between the swimmer's skin and the water.
Cold water can slow down your swimming time and may even lead to hypothermia, according to the Channel Swimming Association. Chilly water and a cool breeze will slow you down and steal warmth from your body, so the longer you swim in cold water, coupled with a cool breeze, the slower your time will be. The ideal water temperature for swimming is 78 degrees to 94 degrees, depending on the age and condition of the swimmer. Most competitive swimming teams train in water that is between 78 to 80 degrees, according to the United States Water Fitness Association.
The swimmer's stroke, or swim style, also determines how fast a swimmer can swim. The freestyle stroke, also known as the front crawl, and the backstroke are the fastest swimming strokes, taking advantage of relatively constant speeds, according to Gary W. Hall, M.D. for "Swimming World Magazine." The butterfly and the breaststroke are the least efficient and slowest strokes because they are more "stop and go."