Engineering the world's fastest swimsuit

Feb 28, 2008

A highly specialised computer modelling technique developed at The University of Nottingham has been instrumental in the design of a revolutionary new swimsuit which is now being hailed as the fastest in the world.

Dr Herve Morvan, a lecturer in fluid mechanics in the School of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, is working as an advisor to the AQUALAB, Speedo’s competition research and development department, responsible for the development of Speedo’s new LZR Racer swimsuit.

Within a week of its launch athletes wearing the new swimsuit had broken three world records.

Speedo harnessed the expertise of NASA and a number of international research institutes and industrial partners such as ANSYS, one of the world’s leading engineering simulation software providers, to create the new suit.

The team at Nottingham specialises in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), the computer modelling of fluid flow. The technique is rapidly developing in its technology and applications and can cut design times, increase productivity and give significant insight to fluid flows.

CFD is commonly used for analysis, for example, in the Rolls Royce University Technology Centre which specialises in research for the aeronautics industry, and for many other applications relating to the energy, biomedical and sports sectors. As well as engineers, experts in the School of Mathematical Sciences and the School of Physics and Astronomy develop and use numerical modelling techniques of fluid flow to provide insight in fluid problems ranging from the atomic scale to that of the universe.

Speedo AQUALAB scanned over 400 athletes and obtained the scan for a series of top athletes. Using CFD analysis Dr Morvan and his team were able to pin-point areas of high friction on the athlete’s body. With this information designers were able to position low friction fabric, exclusively developed by Speedo, in the right locations.

Dr Morvan, a lecturer in fluid mechanics, said: “CFD enabled us to use the compressive property of the suit to shape the body as ideally as possible, taking into account the physiological and bio-mechanical requirements of the athlete.”

The new suit has 5 per cent less drag than Speedo’s 2007 suit, the FS Pro, which saw swimmers break 21 world records.

Analysis by Dr Morvan and his team at The University of Nottingham was carried out in collaboration with flume work at the University of Otago, in New Zealand and fabric tests by NASA.

Dr Morvan who is now working with Speedo towards the 2012 Olympics in London said: “We are now building up toward active drag which accounts for the athlete motion and its interaction with the free surface. This should further validate the suit design as we move to the 2012 Olympics.”

Source: University of Nottingham

Explore further: Fiber-optic microscope will help physicians detect cancer, diseases at early stages

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Amazon.com CEO says investments will continue

11 minutes ago

Some Amazon.com Inc. shareholders may have been excited about the company's decision to increase the membership fee in its Prime two-day shipping service last month, a move that could boost margins.

Tablets, apps for children are on the rise

31 minutes ago

Nick Stepka knew what gift would make his daughter's third birthday a hit, and it wasn't a toy or doll. He gave her a tablet - not a sleek new iPad or a hand-me-down Samsung, but one specifically designed and marketed for ...

Sociology professors asks 'Is teenage suicide contagious?'

1 hour ago

A paper on teenage suicide written by two assistant professors of sociology at the University of Memphis will be published in the field's flagship journal, the American Sociological Review, in April. "Are Suicidal Behavi ...

Recommended for you

Smart sensor technology to combat indoor air pollution

Apr 14, 2014

Indoor air quality (IAQ) influences the health and well-being of people but for the last 20 years there has been a growing concern about pollutants in closed environments, the difficulty in identifying them ...

Drones used to assess damage after disasters

Apr 11, 2014

Researchers of the University of Twente use a new method to map structural damage after disasters. A remote-controlled drone with a regular high-quality camera takes a large amount of pictures of a building. ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...