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Speedo Uses CFD Technology To Launch World's Fastest Swimsuit
Posted Thu March 11, 2004 @09:14AM
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Application Sheffield based Fluent Europe Limited has been working with Speedo International Limited, the world's leading swimwear brand, to bring Formula One design methodologies to the Olympic swimming pool with the launch of the fastest swimsuit in the world, FASTSKIN FSII. Born in the Speedo Aqualab (Speedo's research and development headquarters), FASTSKIN FSII increases speed by reducing passive drag by up to 4% more than the next best suit and is set to help swimmers improve their performance in Athens this summer.

Speedo's research and development team began the development of FASTSKIN FSII after the Sydney Olympics by evaluating emerging engineering technologies that would enable them to take swimsuit design to a new level. Speedo identified a technology never before used in swimwear development - Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

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Speedo has worked closely with Fluent, the leading Computational Fluid Dynamics software company, to develop a virtual swimmer. This allowed Speedo to monitor fluid flow and make FASTSKIN FSII as hydrodynamic as possible. Fluent's ground breaking CFD software has been incorporated into Speedo's research and development engineering design process to evaluate the drag and fluid flow characteristics around swimmers. During the development of FASTSKIN FSII, Fluent's program eliminated the variability of the results and allowed Speedo to conduct a greater number of tests and achieve more accurate results.

Dr. Keith Hanna, director of marketing and communications at Fluent, said: "What Speedo has achieved by transferring motor racing technical design methodologies to the hydrodynamics of swimming and swimsuits is probably a first for an Olympic discipline, and certainly a milestone of applied engineering. I believe that in its wake this integrated technical design approach will be used in many other Olympic sports."

Essential to the success of any swimsuit is its acceptance by the world's leading swimmers and coaches. Speedo has been working with elite athletes from around the world to develop FASTSKIN FSII. Known as the Speedo FSII Team, the athletes will be at the forefront of Speedo's challenge in Athens and will include the latest phenomenon from the US, 18-year-old Michael Phelps. Phelps, who became the first person to break five world records in a single meet when he won four gold medals at the 2003 World Championships, will be wearing FASTSKIN FSII in Athens in a bid to match Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals. If successful, Speedo will pay Phelps a one million dollar bonus.

Speaking about the suit, Phelps said: “The most important thing for me is that I feel comfortable and confident in my suit as this is what enables me to swim at my best. I am very happy with FASTSKIN FSII and believe it will certainly contribute to my overall performance at the Games.”

While Formula One will always remain one of the most technically advanced sports on the planet, swimming is beginning to catch up.

water flow over a swimmer
CFD simulation of water flow over a typical male elite swimmer in the glide position showing contours of surface shear stress on the swimsuit region. Courtesy of Speedo and Fluent Inc.

water flow over a swimmer
CFD simulation of water flow over a typical male elite swimmer showing oilflow lines over head and upper torso colored by local dynamic pressure. Courtesy of Speedo and Fluent Inc.

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