The Lunocet Monofin.

Lunocet Monofin
Tech Level: 10
PowerSwim Monofin
Tech Level: 10

A monofin is a swim fin designed to fit both feet at once, allowing the swimmer to move himself by working both legs in tandem.

Tech Level: 10

Humans are very wasteful creatures in the water. Even the most efficient swimmers can convert only less than five percent of their energy into forward motion. Swim fins help, but not dramatically.

This may change with the development of the Lunocet monofin, created by engineering inventor Ted Ciamillo after extensive studies of dolphin morphology. While the idea of a monofin isn’t new, Ciamillo’s carbon fiber, semi-flexible Lunocet allows a much more efficient motion than previous models.

The shape and angle of the fin is similar to an airplane’s wing, but instead of creating a lifting effect, the monofin directs the force forward, propelling the swimmer with high efficiency on both the upstroke and downstroke. Users have been able to obtain underwater speeds with it almost twice that of olympic swimming champions, up to 13 kilometers per hour. That is fast enough for some to jump completely out of the water, just the way acrobatic dolphins do.

This increased speed and efficiency will be of great help to divers, who will be able to get to where they need to go by using less oxygen and effort. In fact, the inventor foresees the device enabling a new era of ‘hydrotouring,’ long-distance swimming expeditions using Lunocets to cover dozens of miles a day, with participants carrying streamlined, waterproof packs containing only a global positioning system (GPS), satellite phone, and enough food and water for a few nights on shore.

Tech Level: 10

There are times efficiency and endurance is more important than speed, and its this need that the PowerSwim monofin addresses. This device allows a swimmer to obtain up to 80% efficiency in converting their body motions in forward propulsion. It still allows faster swim speeds than normal fins, but does not make divers quite as speedy as the Lunocet monofin.

The main feature of the PowerSwim is a design that takes the strain of propulsion off of the smaller leg muscles of the calves and ankles and redistributes it to the much stronger glutes and quads. When used properly, the PowerSwim’s foil undulates up and down, creating rolling currents that act as propulsive force. Because the foil is held outside of the potentially chaotic swimmer’s wake, it can work much more efficiently in producing forward motion.

Using the Powerswim does take getting used to, as it requires the swimmer to semi-crouch in the water instead of stretching out as most do instinctively. Still, it took experienced divers only a few hours to get used to the unusual swimming motion.

The Powerswim monofin. Image courtesy DARPA.


Article added 07 March 2009