*preprint*

**Inserted:** 30 apr 2021

**Year:** 2016

**Abstract:**

The paper is about the parking 3-sphere swimmer ($\text{sPr}_3$). This is a low-Reynolds number model swimmer composed of three balls of equal radii. The three balls can move along three horizontal axes (supported in the same plane) that mutually meet at the center of $\text{sPr}_3$ with angles of $120^{\circ}$ . The governing dynamical system is introduced and the implications of its geometric symmetries revealed. It is then shown that, in the first order range of small strokes, optimal periodic strokes are ellipses embedded in 3d space, i.e. closed curves of the form $t\in [0,2\pi] \mapsto (\cos t)u + (\sin t)v$ for suitable orthogonal vectors $u$ and $v$ of $\mathbb{R}^3$. A simple analytic expression for the vectors $u$ and $v$ is derived. The results of the paper are used in a second article where the real physical dynamics of $\text{sPr}_3$ is analyzed in the asymptotic range of very long arms.