Psychology is a funny thing. You could have done all the training in the world, be performing at your absolute best and already have wins under your belt but if you don’t feel fast, you’re not likely to be your fastest.
That’s why Speedo have spent the last four years working with 330 top athletes across 26 countries to create a race suit that actually makes the wearer feel faster. The olympic swimmers who line up in Rio wearing the Speedo Fastskin LZR X, will look and feel fast and hopefully the times on the board will reflect that.
Tiny details have been added to offer performance gains. The one-way stretch fabric offers optimum compression but the vertical stretch needed for full movement; the seams on the side of the legs follow the muscles and encourage them to hold the correct position in the water; the women’s suit has extra panels in the body to help turn on the core muscles.
There’s no underestimation in having the psychological edge. The suits have coloured fabric for the first time. This changes the property of the material and adds an incredibly complicated process to the manufacturing of the suits but finally having a fashion element makes the swimmer feel individual from the starting line.
To further fuel fast, every suit used in the olympics has an individual motivational message sewn into it. So when the suit is being put on, the athlete will already be thinking fast.
I was measured up by the expert who fits all the Speedo athletes but 15-minutes into trying to pull the thing on over my hips, I wondered whether they were having me on. It took over 30-minutes and two sets of hands to haul my ass into a suit, then I was told that actually, if I was racing, I’d be in a suit two sizes smaller!
Once in, I started to walk differently. My core was switched on and ready to work. I’ve never stood taller. In the water, I felt like a mini torpedo but there was only one sure way to test it – a race.
We lined up in our teams and, after a 5-second diving lesson from 2012 Olympic medalist, Michael Jamieson, I splashed out our third of four legs. Either MJ is a great teacher or the suit really worked its magic because that was my best dive and best sprint.
Of course, as a recreational swimmer, I’m unlikely to spend 30-minutes contorting into a suit that can’t compensate for my not-so-perfect technique. (I’m pretty sure none of my friends would be willing to help dress me, either!) Good news, then. The technology of Speedo’s race suit will filter down to their other suits.
The brand’s mission is to inspire people to swim, from the elite to infants. All the advances they’ve made for the development of the Fastskin LZR X can be translated into fitness swimwear. Where quicker drying suits create less drag for athletes, it makes getting out of the pool more comfortable for fitness swimmers. Where flat straps help with aerodynamics and marginal gain for the elite, the recreational swimmer will feel more comfort. Soon, we’ll all be feeling faster in the water.
For now, I’m looking forward to seeing how fast our GB athletes feel in Rio!