For swimmers who are competing against each other, every millisecond counts. It’s no surprise then that in order to be the best you need to make sure that everything is working in your favour.
From physical ability, to power and stroke technique, there are many areas to perfect in order to become number one. However, did you know that the swimwear you choose can also make a difference when it comes to your performance?
With competitors racing for world titles and finishing within seconds of one another, your swimwear could be the difference between coming first and taking second spot.
If you think about it, there are certain elements when you’re in the water that will make you slower. Apart from your own build and body shape, it’s also possible to gain speed by reducing the amount of drag you create.
If a swimmer was to wear a top quality costume and do a length in the pool, it’s highly likely that they would get a better time compared to doing the same length with lesser quality gear.
This is why you never see professional male swimmers in trunks as this would significantly increase their drag. In this sense they would be putting themselves in a vulnerable position before they’ve even dived into the water to compete.
Instead of trunks, you will generally see competing male swimmers in tighter fitting jammers with performance style goggles too. Women wear competition racing suits such as kneeskins - these feature either an open or closed back where the leg length sits just above the knee which make the swimmer perfectly streamlined.
It’s not only the style of swimwear that can improve your performance; the materials used will also have an impact.
Research published in an edition of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, highlighted that wearing swimsuits made of different materials has the ability to increase or decrease drag by around 10-15 percent (Ref *1).
This won’t necessarily matter for the recreational swimmer (apart from giving your body a harder workout of course). However, from a competitive point of view this is a significant percentage.
When you consider that the top swimmers in the world are separated by tenths of a second time wise, it makes the above figure sound even more relevant.
Quality performance swimwear will not only reduce drag and make you faster, but it also allows you to swim at a consistent speed too.
With the drag you create reduced to a minimum, this allows you to focus solely on your technique in the water and do all you can to be the very best.
A controversial area
During 2008, swim specialists Speedo (along with NASA) developed swimsuits with an aim to improve speed. After the first week of their launch, three swimming world records were broken wearing the new gear.
Plenty more world records were achieved using this particular kit in the coming months after - resulting in FINA, the governing body for swimming, banning them.
Technology will always enhance sports performance, although a line has to be drawn on a professional scale to provide a level playing field. This issue will no doubt be debated for years to come as technology continues to develop.
Improving your speed
So now we’ve established that swimwear can in fact have an impact on your overall performance, which items should you look to purchase?
Swimwear, swim caps and goggles should be at the top of your list so if you’re seeking new equipment to gain an edge over your competitors, don’t forget to ask a specialist about these particular items.
Your goggles should be tight but comfortable and low profile with hydrodynamic shape. You’ll be able to check this when you come to try your goggles on for the first time.
Similarly, your swim cap should be durable, tight and wrinkle free, this will help to reduce drag as well. Some of the elite and top of the range swim caps can reduce drag by around 3-6 percent compared to regular swim caps, which will make a big difference in the water.
Speak to the experts
If you’re looking to purchase top quality professional swimwear, then get in touch with the friendly team here at Simply Swim.
With a range of female, male and junior swimwear, as well as a host of training aids and accessories, we’ve got all you need to improve your overall swimming performance.
References 1. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Effect of Swim Suit Design on Passive Drag, J. Molledorf, et al. February 2004