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By the close of the 2008 Olympics, American swimmers like Ryan Lochte, Aaron Piersol, and, of course, Michael Phelps had broken almost every speed record that they had set out to conquer. In fact, athletes from all over the world smashed both world and Olympic records at the Beijing games. While there is no denying that these are world class swimmers with amazing training, everyone is buzzing about the new competitive swimsuits, which got their first real test at the Water Cube events. Did these suits give swimmers an edge? You betcha.
Today, men's competitive swimwear falls into one of three categories. The first is the swim brief. Once the uniform of all speed swimmers, these tight underwear-like bathing suits are now used mostly by divers.
Space Age Swimming-Competitive Swimwear for Today's Athlete
Jammers are like an extended boxer brief, covering a man from waist to about mid thigh. They gained popularity in the early 90's, as they cut down on water resistance while providing more body coverage than the traditionally miniscule brief.
But the newest innovation in competition gear is the full body race suit. These futuristic getups look almost like sleeveless wet suits- and are like nothing you've ever seen. Designed by NASA, they are made to make the human body as hydrodynamic as possible. They actually repel water, allowing the swimmer to cut through the pool at mind blowing speeds. They also support the body's core- helping the swimmer to hold the ideal body positioning. Speedo was the first company to offer the suits. Speedo LZR suits are being worn by most major American swim competitors today and other companies have scrambled to come up with comparable products. Dolfin, Aquajogger, and TYR are currently marketing similar suits.
Nothing will ever replace hard work, dedication and extensive training. But performance enhancing suits have been shown to shave 1-2% off your final time. In a sport where winners are often decided by milliseconds, that may just be the boost you need.