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Inspired by the texture and the

FastskinII 2004

efficiency shark

The ‘FastskinII’ was developed after the success of the original Fastskin. They were developed in the Speedo Aqualab, and they use nature to inform design, which is called Biomimetic. They have builtin ridges to mimic the sharkskin and the seams on the swimsuit are designed to be able to help glide the flow of water over the body, ensuring the swimmer does not lose speed. The fabric is extra tight on the body to act as a second skin. Speedo designed the Fastskin swimsuits to suit each gender, whereby both versions have the Fastskin fabric but the male version has the additional Flexskin fabric panels under the arms, and the female version has the Flexskin panels on the side. These panels stretch with the swimmer to help aid their movement. The research to develop this swimsuit involved a body scanning technique to measure how the athlete moves in the water.

of a

LZR Racer 2008 & Fina Rules


fastest and most

technologically advanced swimsuit ever.

Speedo spent 3 years developing the LZR Racer and collaborated with scientists from NASA along with other professionals. Their process was experimental, trying out various materials with the aim of minimising drag, and maximising muscle support without affecting the movement ability of the swimmer. A new material called the ‘LZR Pulse’ was developed for this swimsuit which was light weight and water repellent due to very fine microfibers of nylon and spandex in a high-density weave, and this was the base material which pressed firmly against the body. Added to this material were layers of polyurethane to create the panels, and these are situated on the swimsuit differently depending on what type of swim is being performed. Lastly there is an inner core layer of a stretchable fabric and its purpose is to tighten the abdomen and the lower back areas which add to reducing drag in the water.

Design and technology play an important and influential part in the sports industry and this exhibition shows the variety of ways in which it has affected different areas of sport. For my examples to research I focused on the Speedo swimwear range because I was interested in how it developed from 2004-2011. Since the 1970s Speedo has used nylon/ elastane in the suits, and it allows for a lightweight and a smooth fit to the body, which is an important part for the swimmer as not to cause drag in the water whilst also providing a comfortable fit for the swimmer. As new technology becomes available the sports industry will see further change in the ability to improve performance, but regulations have to be put in place in order to keep the sport fair to show the athletic ability and not the ability of the equipment they use. I think it is interesting how much development and research goes into making sportswear and the constant need for improvement with the use of more technology becoming available to find problems to solve. The Olympics every four years is an opportunity not to be missed by the companies that produce the equipment needed.

The design of the appearance of the Speedo swimsuit changed after this edition due to regulations put in place in 2009 after the LZR Racer caused much controversy, and it was decided that the rules had to change so as to avoid technology doping. An example of the new rules was the amount of surface of the body that the suit could cover, so this got rid of the full bodysuit style used previously.

Fastskin3 Racing System 2011 Speedo released their ‘Fastskin3’ and this new design involved a whole racing system of the cap, goggles and the suit working together to create a new experience for the swimmer and to enhance performance. The aims when making a new suit is to give an athlete a swimsuit they can be their best in, and provide them with evidence of this that they can believe in. In order to create this evidence, Speedo collaborated with other professionals such as swim physiologists to discover how to improve on the last swimsuit by researching into what the athlete needs and wants out of it and trying to make that happen. Using 3D scanning technology they were able to create an avatar and save time by using digital prototypes to get the exact shape of the cap. Producing simulations with a company called ANSYS also meant they saved vital time and were able to see the ways in which the water affected the swimmer, and could research into ways to help stop the water slowing them down by producing a racing system that could aid their performance.

4 years and 55,000 hours of research.

Helen Penfold I Design Factory I Brief Part 1: Design Museum Research

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