The science of swimsuits | Bleader

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The science of swimsuits

Posted By on 07.31.12 at 03:19 PM

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Watching the swimming events at the Olympics, plus observing my fellow lap swimmers at various Chicago Park District pools, I started wondering why suits designed specifically for competitive swimming look the way they do. The obvious answer is to reduce drag—in major swim events, every tenth of a second saved counts. But swimsuits designed for serious competition are on a whole other level from a Nike one-piece picked up at the Sports Authority.

Suit technology has come so far that it's even been outlawed. FINA, the governing body of world swimming, banned "nontextile" suits after 29 world records were broken during the world championships in 2009, shortly after suits incorporating polyurethane were introduced. Those suits also tended to trap air, keeping swimmers more buoyant and therefore helping them swim faster. Other rules were introduced regulating the length and thickness of suits, among other factors.

That hasn't deterred swimwear manufacturers from continuing their research. For Speedo's Fastskin3 product series, designers used "computational fluid dynamics" to create suits, caps, and goggles that effectively redistribute water flow around the body—mostly by compressing those pesky protuberant body parts into a streamlined torpedo.

So maybe the suit I bought earlier this year isn't a bit too tight after all. I'll never be Missy Franklin, but I'll take all the help I can get anyway.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Related User Lists

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories