Coach Pete

Expert advice for Swimmers, Triathletes, and Coaches

Scientists Try to Link Swim Records to Suit Italy’s Swimming Federation Will Be Conducting Tests on Speedo’s LZR

By MONICA NISTA
May 2, 2008


Competitive swimmers aren’t the only ones testing the waters with Speedo’s new controversial LZR Raser.

 

Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin model the new Speedo LZR RACER during the new Speedo Swimsuit Launch at Espace on February 12, 2008 in New York City.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Now scientists will be testing the waters and the suits.

Over the past few months, world records have fallen in the sport of swimming faster than you can say “freestyle,” and some opponents of the LZR are not buying that it’s strictly because of the talent.

According to USA Swimming, an astonishing 40 world records have fallen this year, and of those, 36 were broken by athletes in the LZR that Speedo unveiled in February. Speedo has even created a special section on its Web site where online visitors can sign up to a “LZR Racer Results Feed” to get e-mail updates on the “jaw-dropping” records broken by athletes wearing the LZR.

Swimming records typically fall at unusually high rates during Olympic years, as athletes are conditioned to compete at the highest level, but according to Brent Rutemiller, publisher and CEO of Swimming World Magazine, the numbers this year are “unprecedent

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May 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Suit Designed for Olympic Swimmers Speedo Claims Latest Swimsuit Leaves the Competition in Its Wake

By MALAIKA BOVA
LONDON, March 6, 2008


It looks like a space suit. It’s called the LZR Raser and the Beijing Olympics next summer may well show its true worth. Speedo, the UK-based swimwear brand, claims that its new swimsuit created in collaboration with NASA may help swimmers get the faster edge.

 

American Olympic medalists Amanda Beard, left, Natalie Coughlin, right, and Michael Phelps pose…

American Olympic medalists Amanda Beard, left, Natalie Coughlin, right, and Michael Phelps pose with in new, high technology Speedo LZR Racer swimsuits they will wear during the Beijing Summer Olympics this summer during a news conference introducing the suits in New York, in this Feb. 12, 2008

(Kathy Willens/AP Photo)

The suit, which would not look out of place in the “Star Trek” crew’s wardrobe, is made of an ultra-lightweight, low-drag and fast-drying fabric that repels water, helping the best swimmers to shave seconds off their times. “When I was diving off the block […] I went gliding,” swimming champion, Michael Phelps said while wearing it. “I felt good. I felt like a rocket.”

Looking for the perfect swimming equipment, Aqualab, Speedo International’s research and development team, has tapped the expertise of NASA researchers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., which had already worked on drag-reduction technology for boats, including an America’s Cup winner.

Usually dealing with the properties of air, the aerospace engineers applied the same principles to the water. “Air has different fluid properties than water […], but it still obeys the same physical laws of motion,” said Steve Wilkinson, a researcher at Langley’s Fluid Physics and Control Branch.

The thing that prevents swimmers from going faster is what scientists call skin friction. It accounts for one-third of the force holding back the body under water. In a traditional suit there is a lot of skin movement, no matter how thin or fat a body is. The new Speedo suit controls a lot of this extra movement.

How does it do this? NASA researchers tested more than 60 different fabrics and patterns to see which one among them had the lowest drag. “The tests generally have shown the smoother the fabric, the lower the drag,” Wilkinson said.

Once they found the best possible fabric, Aqualab officials needed to identify those areas of the swimmer’s body that created the most friction. They scanned 400 elite swimmers, placed low-friction panels on critical areas, and then welded the suit to create an aerodynamic shape. The result is that “It feels like having a second skin,” as Natalie Caughlin, winner of two gold medals at the 2004 Games, describes it.

May 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments