Coach Pete

Expert advice for Swimmers, Triathletes, and Coaches

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

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


  1. That nano technology.
    but,I think who win,not up to the suit.
    it’s up to training and training.

    Comment by swimsuits | May 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. There’s an interesting debate going on about the new swimsuits, it can be found at Swimming vs athletics debate. I’m a swim shop owner and also a swimmer so I’ve posted some thoughts as well.

    If you’re interested in some portuguese terms for swimwear take a look at the Swimwear Practical Dictionary, or Dicionário de Equipamento de Natação (that’s in portuguese). Anyway this is a double entry dictionary (english, portuguese an brazilian portuguese).


    Comment by Vitor Cunha (aqualoja natação) | November 30, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] A Suit Designed for Olympic Swimmers Speedo Claims Latest Swimsuit Leaves the Competition in Its Wak… 1,230 views […]

    Pingback by 2008 Stats….. « Coach Pete | January 1, 2009 | Reply

  4. I blogged about FINA’s recent ruling:

    Comment by newmomoldmom | May 20, 2009 | Reply

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