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ande
June 5th, 2008, 07:39 AM
Japanese swimsuit makers race Speedo
May 13, 2008

TOKYO (AFP) — A Japanese fabric maker says it has the secret to make the world's fastest-ever swimsuit as the country races against time to catch Speedo's high-tech, record-breaking LZR Racer suit.

Japan's Olympic swimmers, obliged to wear their own country's products, have been in uproar over the LZR Racer, going as far as to liken its use to doping because of the advantage it gives wearers.

Now Japan's Yamamoto Corp., which has supplied a super-fast synthetic rubber fabric to wetsuit makers around the world, has come to the rescue with the Olympic Games just three months away.

The company has offered material, called the Biorubber Swim-SCS Fabric, to challenge Britain's Speedo, saying it is the "the world's fastest swimwear material."

"The decision is not aimed at all at business. It's aimed at helping Japanese swimmers fight to their heart's content in fair conditions at the Beijing Olympics," said the company's president, Tomizo Yamamoto.

The rubber maker said it has sent samples to Japan's three main sporting attire makers -- Mizuno, Asics and Descente. The Japan Swimming Federation has given the three until May 30 to come up with an upgrade to counter Speedo.

The federation requires its swimmers, who include Olympic breaststroke champion Kosuke Kitajima, only to wear products by one of the three companies.

Yamamoto's fabric is coated with synthetic rubber that absorbs water molecules into its honeycomb surface, unlike most other materials which repel them. Its surface is smoothed out with water molecules to minimise frictional resistance.

Japan has set a goal of winning a total of five medals at the Olympics in August across all disciplines, including in the pool.

But Japanese swimmers have been alarmed by the LZR Racer since its debut in February, with the suit accounting for 18 of the 19 new world records since then.

"We want to erase fears among the swimmers. We have requested the three companies to match Speedo," said Kazuo Sano, the swimming federation's executive director.

Tomiaki Fukuda, chief of the Japanese delegation to the Beijing Games, lashed out at other sports leaders for limiting the choice to Japanese brands.

"Why can't we use the (Speedo) swimsuit when we know it's fast," Fukuda shouted at a recent meeting, according to media reports.

Yamamoto said its Biorubber fabric has already been used, primarily for triathlon events.

In October, swimwear by New Zealand brand Blue Seventy which used the fabric was approved by the international swimming federation FINA for its official meets, he said.

Other suit makers, including Xterra of the United States, Australia's 2XU, Aquaman of France and New Zealand's Orca have also adopted the material, Yamamoto said.

Five collegiate swimmers at Japan's Kansai University shaved their times by 1.0-2.0 seconds in 50 metres after switching to the Biorubber Swim fabric, he said.

The LZR Racer was developed with the help of the US space agency NASA. It uses a high-tech fabric of water-resistant polyurethane and is structured to squeeze the swimmer's body into the right posture.

FINA endorsed its use last month.

When Japanese Olympic swimmers tested the LRZ Racer last month, one of them improved his time for the first 15 metres by 0.7 seconds, said swimming federation official Norimasa Hirai.

"I can imagine that in general the (Speedo) product means a difference of 0.5 seconds over 100 metres and one second over 200 metres," Hirai said.

All three Japanese makers said they would consider the Yamamoto fabric.

"Yamamoto's is one of our options," said Mizuno spokesman Fumihiko Sawai. "We are definitely prepared to produce the best available."


http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hrB4kmt3vQdqOoix9oNkEW0AoR2Q

Dolphin 2
June 5th, 2008, 12:14 PM
I’ve been doing some spying (and other secret forms of espionage) inside Speedo’s research lab and I managed to get ahold of a photo of their latest idea for the next generation of full body suits: :eek:

http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/images/nature_conservation/grey_nurse_shark.jpg

It even has plexiglass covered eye holes that eliminate the need for the swimmer to wear a separate pair of googles.

As with all of the previous models, I bet FINA will also approve it as being legal too. :shakeshead:

Happy swimming

Dolphin 2

mctrusty
June 5th, 2008, 12:44 PM
Jeez, I wouldn't have expected Dolphin2 to comment on that article.:bump:

Dolphin 2
June 5th, 2008, 01:19 PM
So a Japanese company is also developing a tech suit too???

This is actually good news!!! :banana:

Here's what I'm hoping for: If enough companies jump into the suit technology fray, then the competition amongst them all will be so great that none of them can rake in enough revenue to stay afloat (no pun intended) and the whole craze may eventually fall flat on its face. :rofl:

It’s like in physics where you get a huge clump of “Matter & Antimatter” particles all together in one spot. Then in one big, brilliant blue flash, everything disappears into thin air!!! :bump:

Dolphin 2

meldyck
June 5th, 2008, 04:41 PM
Galen,

best of luck in your new sport, whatever it may be......

If you select Naked Mud Wrestling, you'll always have the great feel of the mud on your body AND, by the very nature of the sport, no suit can ever intrude.

We'll keep an eye on their web site discussion forum to see how it's going.

swimshark
June 6th, 2008, 07:32 AM
Sweet that Mizuno might get to make these suits. My sister is friends with a US rep for them and gets free samples all the time. I'm wearing one of their shirts now. I'd love to get a free suit :wine:

Dolphin 2
June 6th, 2008, 11:30 AM
Since we’re back on the topic of suits again, here’s another analysis: Is it really the suit -or the water itself- that makes the difference in swimming speed?

Here’s a scientific analysis “The Physical Properties of Water” which provides an explanation aquatic hydrodynamics and the subject of “drag”: :fish2:

http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/water_physics.htm

While not expressly dealing with the hydrodynamic aspects of human swimming or the methods of increasing swimming capabilities, there is a discussion of the subject of “drag” near the end of the article (you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page).

In general, this analysis largely dispels the idea that tech suits are more effective in reducing surface drag of the human body any more than swimming with just bare skin. :agree:

This is also a discussion of the subject of surfactants which greatly reduce water friction by breaking surface tension and reducing viscosity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfactant

I personally know from experiments that surfactants (a substance commonly used in bath gels and shampoos) are very effective in increasing the efficiency of pumps and motors (decreased motor amperage) used in jetted baths and hot tubs. Adding a tablespoon of a good bath gel for every 30 gallons of water can actually reduce the viscosity of the water so much that the pump motor’s amperage will drop by 12% to 13%.

Therefore, they are a also a good candiate for enhancing swimming capabilities. However, surfactants may not be suitable for swimming pools where persons are subject to complete submersion and inhaling or swallowing water is common.

Never the less, if a sheer increase in speed is the only objective of the swimming community, the best approach would be to develop a “swimmer friendly” surfactant rather than to keep focusing on the development of supposedly faster (and very uncomfortable) suits. :agree:

Of course the suit makers won’t be able to rake in the big $$$ and the brand recognition they’re getting from the suit technology craze!!! :cry:

Happy swimming

Dolphin 2

Chris Stevenson
June 6th, 2008, 12:16 PM
Here’s a scientific analysis “The Physical Properties of Water” which provides an explanation aquatic hydrodynamics and the subject of “drag”:

http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/water_physics.htm

While not expressly dealing with the hydrodynamic aspects of human swimming or the methods of increasing swimming capabilities, there is a discussion of the subject of “drag” near the end of the article (you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page).

In general, this analysis largely dispels the idea that tech suits are more effective in reducing surface drag of the human body any more than swimming with just bare skin.

Galen...why in the world would you think surface drag is the only reason that technical suits would work? Most serious analyses I have seen of the issue conclude that pressure drag reduction is the more important factor (and that the suits reduce this too). You aren't saying anything that hasn't been said before, and better.

Suit makers talking about surface drag is just the KISS principle applied to marketing.

If this is so important to you, then design a good experiment and do it, then publish the results. Or comb through the mountains of data and try to tease out a relationship (or lack thereof) and publish the results. Or pay someone else to do it, if you can't.

pwolf66
June 6th, 2008, 12:25 PM
There's a reason they call them COMPRESSION suits. Dolphin, please take a look at ANY underwater video taken where you can see the swimmers bodies clearly rather than covered completely by a suit. Take a look at the effect the water is having on those very fit and muscular folks. You can clearly see ripples in the skin and muscles as the water resistance causes the body shape to distort.

knelson
June 6th, 2008, 12:40 PM
You don't really hear much about it anymore, but I recall when the Speedo Fastskins first came out they mentioned how the fabrics were intended to be similar to shark skin. In particular, the tiny ridges on a shark's skin that seem to reduce the drag in the turbulent boundary layer.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect Speedo found out they could achieve greater drag reductions by creating a fabric that compressed the muscles more than a fabric that mimics a shark's skin. My guess is this is related to the pressure drag vs. friction drag argument: by changing the swimmer's shape they can reduce pressure drag which is the predominant form of drag at the Reynolds numbers involved in human swimming.

One thing Speedo never advertises is it seems they realized they had a good fabric all along in what was used in "paper suits" in the 80s and 90s. Anyone who remembers the paper suits realize they were very similar if not identical to the fabric used in the Fastskin Pro. I'm not sure how similar the LZR fabric is, but I have heard various reports that the biggest difference over previous suit incarnations is its girdling effect on the swimmer. Again, this suggests it's modifying the shape of the swimmer rather than trying to reduce friction drag or 'slipperyness.'

Allen Stark
June 6th, 2008, 12:54 PM
There was a surfactant"Time Off Swim Spray" and it's spread on form"Motion Lotion" which was used in the 70s.I liked it,but it's illegal now per FINA(which seems kind of strange in light of recent developements.)

mctrusty
June 6th, 2008, 01:15 PM
There was a surfactant"Time Off Swim Spray" and it's spread on form"Motion Lotion" which was used in the 70s.I liked it,but it's illegal now per FINA(which seems kind of strange in light of recent developements.)

When did motion lotion become illegal? I remember people using it at our high school finals in the early - mid 90's. I also remember some guys on our team covering themselves in baby oil. Man, what a mess that was.

Dolphin 2
June 6th, 2008, 03:24 PM
Hey Chris
The reason why I thought the the purported “reduced surface drag” feature of tech suits was the only issue was because of all the hype Speedo gave to its FastSkin (remember those artificial shark skin denticles?) and earlier products from other suit makers.

I (and others) knew we were being fed a bunch of baloney about the claim that the suit's material had a coefficient of surface drag that was lower than bare skin and the suit makers were in fact actually using them to reduce “form drag” by altering the swimmer’s body through compression –IE- the corset effect. :confused:

However, isn't body compression a blatant example of the mechanized approach to compensate for the lack of an optimum physique for swimming and muscle development? Humans aren't natuarally designed for swimming so isn't some deformation of the body by water flowing around it just part of the territory that we should just have to live with? :shakeshead:

In essence, suit technology is nothing more than a dumbed down approach to transforming an inferior swimmer into a superior swimmer by artificial means instead of the rather mundane idea of working out. :shakeshead:

Just read the newspapers and it’s obvious that today’s high performing athletes are now becoming the product of chemical and mechanical enhancements. In the academic world, they refer to this as the “Cheat Sheet” approach and why is it considered an honorable achievement in the sports field? :dunno:

So where is FINA going to draw the line on this suit technology stuff –if they are going to draw any at all? At some point, all the WRs earned by wearing the "latest, greatest techy suit are going to become virtually worthless (and modern swimming will be nothing but a subject of mockery in MAD Magazine) except for all the money and publicity the suit makers have raked in. :notworking:

Dolphin 2

The Fortress
June 6th, 2008, 03:49 PM
In essence, suit technology is nothing more than a dumbed down approach to transforming an inferior swimmer into a superior swimmer by artificial means instead of the rather mundane idea of working out.

This is such BS. Most people wearing those suits are workout pros and can't be called "inferior."

And there is nothing wrong with some compression. Especially for masters. Most people, except maybe (S)he-Man, look better in a Pro than without.

I highly doubt that modern swimming will be a mockery.

Ian Smith
June 6th, 2008, 11:35 PM
This is such BS.

Totally agree, Fort. So succinct, so accurate.

Allen Stark
June 6th, 2008, 11:39 PM
When did motion lotion become illegal? I remember people using it at our high school finals in the early - mid 90's. I also remember some guys on our team covering themselves in baby oil. Man, what a mess that was.

I am not sure,and someone will probably quote the rule exactly,but the rule says no foreign substance may be applied to improve speed.

SwimStud
June 7th, 2008, 12:11 AM
I am not sure,and someone will probably quote the rule exactly,but the rule says no foreign substance may be applied to improve speed.

To be honest I see no difference in covering yourself in baby oil, horse poop or a speed suit...if you're using an agent to add speed/reduce drag, you're using an agent. Dance around it how you like but that's the bottom line.
That said fastest folks will still be fastest without the suits...I just don't see the need: So you can say the human body travelled at such and such speed?
...yes fine but only with the aid of a suit...

Leonard Jansen
June 7th, 2008, 11:40 AM
To be honest I see no difference in covering yourself in baby oil, horse poop or a speed suit...

Since I own a small horse stabling business, let me assure you that there is a vast difference between horse poop and baby oil.

More to the point, I just don't see how you legislate against the march of technology. You can draw a line in the sand and someone will get around it. I do see the argument against covering ones body with chemicals as these come off and possibly foul the water.

Just lay off the horse poop.

-LBJ

knelson
June 7th, 2008, 01:39 PM
I do sort of miss that motion lotion smell at meets though. OK, on second thought, maybe not. :)

That Guy
June 7th, 2008, 02:52 PM
Since I normally shave with an electric razor, and only use shaving cream and traditional razor for shaving down after a taper, my brain associates the smell of shaving cream with swimming fast. Pavlov's Swimmer gets psyched up by the smell of Barbasol :joker:

mattson
June 10th, 2008, 02:01 PM
You can clearly see ripples in the skin and muscles as the water resistance causes the body shape to distort.

Now that you mention it, I've noticed in the past when one of the fastest swimmers on my team (Ron) would push off after a flipturn, I can see skin ripples just below his shoulder blades.

From personal experience, I've noticed that my spare tire continues moving after I've rotated to a side on freestyle. That extra motion has to be wasted energy.