Theory

Hydrodynamics plays an essential role in swimming performance regardless of the particular event (freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke or backstroke). Studies estimate that over 90 per cent of the swimmer’s power output is spent overcoming hydrodynamic resistance. The hydrodynamic resistance can be divided approximately into three, almost independent components: • Wave drag • Form drag, and • Skin friction drag The wave drag is associated with the work required to generate waves, form drag is the resistance to motion due to the shape of the body, and skin friction is the resistance to motion due to the area of the body with the water (the wetted area). The form drag is believed to constitute almost 56 per cent of the total drag. All three components are time-dependent as the swimmer completes the stroke, and all three components depend on the speed of the swimmer, as well as his/her shape, length, and style.

were shortened even more, but women had to wear a short skirt called “modesty panel” and by this time a two-piece swimsuit became very common. In 1930s, bikini was introduced as an innovative swimwear. After the World War II, Nylon replaced the silk and wool in major events’ competitive suits and the colour was allowed in 1964 while the modesty panel was eliminated in 1973. In 1990s, swimsuits continue to evolve to mimic skin and the Lycra was introduced and quickly became popular. In 2000s, Speedo® lunched the full-body Fastskin™ swimsuit based on so called shark’s skin pattern and mimicked in V-shape ridges. Since Beijing Olympic 2008, almost all major sports wear manufacturers introduced full-body swimsuits made of semi- andfull polyurethane combined with Lycra fabric.

A swimsuit, bathing suit or swimming costume is an item of clothing designed to be worn while participating in water sports and activities such as swimming, water polo, diving, surfing, water skiing, or for any activity in the Sun, such as Sun bathing. Competition swimsuits differ somewhat from fashion swimsuits in style, fit, and fabric. Because they are designed to stay in place and facilitate swimming speed in the water. The manufacturers of competitive swimsuits pay attention to several factors that are not generally important in fashionable or recreational swimsuits. Because speed and smoothness in the water are so essential to a good competition swimsuit, manufacturers have paid close attention to the skin of water animals. While colours, prints, and cut are the most important factors in recreational swimwear, texture and tightness are the most important factors in competitive swimwear.
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Engineered competitive swimsuits
Special swimsuits for competitive swimming are designed to reduce skin drag and resemble unitards. Commercial swimsuit manufacturers have claimed and counterclaimed about their swimsuits performance by reducing aerodynamic drag and enhancing buoyancy. These suits are made from spandex and provide little thermal protection, but they do protect the skin from stings and abrasion. Most competitive swimmers also wear special swimsuits including partial and full bodysuits, racer back styles, and jammers and racing briefs to assist their glide through the water and gain speed advantages. The manufacturers claimed these suits have features such as ultra-light weight, water repellence, muscles oscillation and skin vibration reduction by compressing the body. Recently, swimsuits have been aggressively marketed principally as a means for reducing the skin friction component of the total drag, thereby conferring a competitive advantage over other swimmers.

History of competitive swimsuit
Historically, the people used to swim nude and it was socially accepted. Today’s swimsuit has travelled a long path and gone through a series of changes of styles and designs. Notably, in the early 18th century, wool and flannel were chosen as a suit fabric covering almost the entire skin of the swimmer. However, this suit became bulky when it came to contact with water. In 1908, the Australian swimmer, Annette Kellerman created the first practical swimsuit made of one piece plus bathing socks. This suit exposed the knees and arms of the swimmer for the first time in the history of swimming. Officially, the women’s swimming events were added to Olympic game in 1912 and swimmers were allowed to use relatively shorter swimsuits. In 1920s, swimsuits

The technological innovation in both design and materials has played a crucial role in sport achieving its current standing in both absolute performance and its aesthetics. Few studies also revealed that textiles can play a vital role in high performance sports where speed is a dominating factor. The aerodynamic properties such as drag and lift can play a dominant role in swimming especially in swimsuit design. The swimmers usually involve very short winning time margins in events that often have much longer timescales, making hydrodynamic resistance and its associated energy loss during the event significant in the outcome. In this article we tried to study the latest swimsuits available in the market.

The journey of Engineered Competitive Swimsuit started when Speedo®, the world's number one brand of swimwear, introduced Fastskin™, the most technically advanced competitive swimsuit ever made. Among the most dramatic elements was the introduction of a full-body silhouette, the first to be offered in the company's history. The swimsuit looked to a creature that is fast in the water but not naturally hydrodynamic -- the shark, whose highly developed skin minimises drag and maximises swimming efficiency. The secret behind the shark's skin is its dermal denticles, which look like tiny hydrofoils with V-shaped ridges. As a shark moves through water, it creates turbulence and drag. Its dermal denticles decrease drag and turbulence by directing water flow over the body, which allows surrounding water to pass over the shark more effectively. The Speedo Fastskin™ fabric has ridges that are scientifically calculated for height and width to the exact proportion of the shark's dermal denticles -the most efficient formula for speed. The athlete's initial concerns with full body silhouette focused upon a loss of the "feel of the water" along the inner forearm, an area critical to generating propulsive forces. To combat this, the Speedo® Fastskin™ incorporates a gripper fabric on the forearm, which mimics skin, and enhances the sensory feedback for the swimmer. Principle Jet concept Zoned compression NASA (Hydro Form Compression system) Submarines Arena Stealth Fabric (lightweight)
®

Basic characteristics of swimsuits
• Opacity • Higher order of stretch and recovery • Higher order of resistance to abrasion • Strong and durable • Colour fastness to light • Colour fastness to sea and chlorinated pool water • Less absorbent and should have wet strength • UV protection

Shark skin texture

Evolution of competitive swimsuits
Brand Adidas TYR Speedo Diana Arenas Swimsuit Jet concept bodysuit Tracer A7 LZR Submarine X-Glide

Year of development 2003 2007 2008 2008 2008

Speedo® Fastskin™ Fabric with shark’s skin texture

Table 1 Evolution of competitive swimsuits

Shark skin is composed of small jagged, overlapping scales, seen here with a backscatter detector. This effects produces a covering that offers low resistance and turbidity when the shark swims and has been copied in the body suits of Olympic swimmers.

(By Vasant R. Kothari, Assistant Professor, Department of Fashion Technology, NIFT, Bangalore, Neha Goyal & Megha Sheoran, MFTech, NIFT, Bangalore)

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