Swimming & Technology

Swimming Suit Technology in recent years…

Ian Thorpe: The Next Generation Body Suit (2000-2002)

Adidas Ian’s sponsor approached him wanting to create a new suit for the next generation of technology swim suits. After waring a body suit in Sydney 2000 for the Olympics. Adidas in 2002 created the JetConcept who worked with Ian to create the next generation of body swim suits which Ian competd with in the barcalona world championships.

The suit became known as the seal suit.

(Ian retired from swimming in 2006).


In recent years its not only Adidas that has wanted to create the fastest swimming suit, but other competitors like Spedo who have been working with Nasa to create the fastest and most technological swim suit ever.

Spedo February 2008

New Body Suits Banned by FINA The World’s International Swimming Governing Body

 2009 Controversy after 98% of Medals won at Beijing Olympics were with polyurethane body suits.

130 World records smashed due to suits in 18Months since the introduction of Spedos New Generation of  polyurethane body suits. this saw Speedo’s research team began to brainstorm innovative ways to help swimmers go faster after the ban by creating a new suit.

Spedo are trying to replace the now infamous full-body LZR suit. Dubbed “the rubber suit,” it compressed a swimmer’s body into a streamlined tube and trapped air, adding buoyancy and reducing drag.

Michael Phelps who set world records in seven of his eight events at Beijing worethe suit, but has applauded its ban.

FINA banned Suits effective of 2010


New rules that permit only “jammers,” suits from the kneecap to navel for men, and from the knee to shoulder for women. The fabric must be air permeable, and a suit may not have any fastening devices such as a zipper, a response to companies that began creating wetsuit-like neoprene suits after the 2008 Olympics.

The controversy over the suit raises a number of questions, including:

Do you want to see how fast swimmers can go with an incredibly technological evinced body suit?

Does the Suit create more interest in the sport?

Is the suit a type of technological doping that enables athletes to be better than they are?

Does it help the athlete reach their potential and make swimming a more exciting sport?

Swimming is one of the most technical and hardest sports to compete in, in the world; with the use of correct and most effective stroke technique therefore does the suit enhance and modernise the sport into the future?

Does the athlete want to be the best they can be: with, or without the suit?

I think that these questions link to swimming and other sports for example tennis, cyclists, badminton, diving etc. However swimming is different as these are types of equipment. Where swimming is the body and the equipment is the suit that improves the body.

It is often talked about how fast a man can run the 100m. This has created enormous spectator appeal so why would we not want to see the fastest swimmer?

I think it’s fantastic to see swimmers swim the best they can from a personal level, the suit and technology adds to the sports and as a swimmer myself think it’s amazing in how many records were Brocken when the suit was introduced.

However I do agree that the suit is very expensive and can only be worn a few times so the suit is not available to everyone, so based on that note I don’t think it’s fair that those who can afford, have the advantage over those who can’t afford. This is a fair assumption creating a level playing field and still makes swimming assessable to everyone, I also agree with FINA’s decision to ban the polyurethane body suits and return to textile suits/jammers with new implementing rules.

March 2011



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