The new rules, in effect since 2010, 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 swimsuit company Speedo took that as a challenge.
At Aqualab, researchers took four years and spent 55,000 man-hours to produce what Speedo calls the Fastskin 3 system. The internal team of 19 supplemented by outside experts talked to hydrodynamic experts, aircraft engineers and nano textile producers. They called on experts in kinesiology, biomechanics, fluid dynamics and even a sports psychologist, who suggested a blue-gray tinge on goggle lenses to instill a sense of calm and focus. They tried the “Six Thinking Hats” method of brainstorming, a green hat for creative ways to attack a problem, a black one to look at the feasibility of those ideas. They “reverse brainstormed,” picturing how to make a swimmer go as slow as possible with oversized goggles and a suit compressing the body so parts stuck out, creating drag. The crazier the idea, the better.
The result is the swimsuit you see Michael Phelps wearing here. Read about how it was developed and what makes it so special at Smithsonian. Link -via Metafilter