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The PowerSwim is a device somewhat like two pairs of long thin airplane wings, one pair at each end of an axis. The axis is fastened to a scuba diver's shins by straps round his legs. The longer pair of wings (about 6 feet (1.8 m) wide or a bit less) is at his hips and the shorter pair is at his ankles. The wings rotate limitedly on axles near their front edges, and thus on upstroke and downstroke they propel water backwards. It is claimed that the length of the front wing lets it operate outside the cone of wake that starts at the diver's shoulders. It is claimed to let a scuba diver or frogman swim much faster (250%) than with swimfins for the same amount of bodily effort, if used correctly, and being not motorized, it makes no motor noise to be heard by hostile hydrophones, but noise would occur if the front wings are allowed to hit the diver's hips at end of upstroke. It works somewhat like a penguin's or plesiosaur's side-mounted flippers. Its estimated cost is less than $500. The diver uses it by moving his legs up and down together, letting the knees bend and straighten.
It was developed by DARPA in 2007.
Aqueon is or was a similar device to PowerSwim. It was primarily developed in the 1950s by the Innerspace Corporation, an aquatic propulsion company which specialized in submersible thrusters at the time. Its front wings, at least sometimes, are shorter than with PowerSwim. The diver held onto it by trapping it between his shins by putting his shins in the side hollows of two エ-shaped attachments. The first working Aqueon unit was sold in 1979. Its original designer was California Institute of Technology graduate Calvin "Cal" Gongwer. It was claimed to provide three times as much thrust as conventional swimming fins and up to six times as much power, and that from a stationary start, a swimmer covered 25 yards in 8.4 seconds using Aqueon, and that with an Aqueon a swimmer covered 1500 yards with scuba equipment in 24 minutes; the fastest time covered by the same diver with scuba equipment and fins was 44 minutes. The Aqueon was reportedly examined at length and during multiple "pool parties" at the Gongwer residence by DARPA scientists before they created their new concept.
- "PowerSwim". Defense Sciences Office. DARPA.
- Sofge, Erik (October 2009). "Navy SEALs Could Turn Superhuman with Pentagon's PowerSwim". Popular Mechanics.
- Engber, Daniel (8 August 2007). "I Want To Be a Mad Scientist: The Latest Bizarre Gizmos at the DARPATech Conference". Slate.
- Rutherford, Mark (8 October 2007), "Rube Goldberg meets Aquaman", Military Tech (CNET.com)
- "DARPA's PowerSwim Brings Out the Aquaman in You". Gizmodo. 2 November 2007. (Includes photo and illustration of device)
- Aqueon by Innerspace Corporation - information on this 50+ year old idea
- Recent photos, videos and information about the Aqueon (forum)
- More information about the Aqueon and Powerswim devices (forum)
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