Russian research on naked swimmers & wild dolphins

Olympic swimmers owe some of their success to research done by a Russian scientist. Here’s a look  back at our look back at his work:

Yuri Glebovich Aleyev used an electric winch to tow naked women under water at speeds of two to four metres per second. Later, his colleagues, when they peered at Aleyev’s films and photos, had reason to be upset. What they saw was not what anyone, except maybe Aleyev, was expecting.

Aleyev, who died in 1991, was one of the world’s great experts on nekton. Nekton is an obscure word for animals that swim where they wish, rather than merely drifting along. Plankton are not nekton. Fish, dolphins and people are. Aleyev spent much of his life and ingenuity trying to tease out the secrets of how good swimming creatures swim so well. The naked women served as stand-ins, so to speak, for wild dolphins.

Aleyev wanted to test something many of his colleagues believed

And here are some images from his book called Nekton:

(And yet again, special thanks to biologist Frank Fish for being the first to tell us about Aliyev and his body of work with and on bodies.)

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