FASTSKIN SUITS DID PROVIDE MECHANICAL ASSISTANCE TO SWIMMERS

Chollet, D., Chavallard, F., Lemaitre, F., & Seifert, L. (2010). Do Fastskin swimsuits influence coordination in front crawl swimming? A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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This study compared the effects of Fastskin bodysuits on spatio-temporal parameters and the Index of Coordination (IdC) developed by Chollet et al. (2000). In the first part of this study, swimmers (M = 9; F = 6) were asked to carry out a series of glide, buoyancy, and passive torque tests and to swim a series of 25-m trials at four velocities (800, 400, 100 and 50 m), with and without a Fastskin suit. In the second clinical part of the study, a French international swimmer, specialized in short distances, carried out the same tests with three different Fastskin suits.

There were no significant differences in buoyancy, glide, or passive torque with and without the Fastskin suit. There was a significant difference in the Index of Coordination and the propulsive phase with and without the suits.

The Index of Coordination was affected by wearing a Fastskin suit, with a reduction in drag constraints for the same given speed, making each propulsive movement more effective. The compressive effect of reducing body volume and thus, decreasing flotation, was offset by an improvement (decrease) in the cross-sectional area. Compression is more useful for higher swim speeds. The case study of the real sprinter confirmed the change in coordination.

This study also showed that the same type of Fastskin suit could have different effects on different swimmers, each swimmer being unique. The latest generation of Fastskin bodysuits, did improve buoyancy and glide and reduced drag. The swimmer thus had fewer constraints and was perhaps able to swim higher on the water.

Implication. As "high-tech" swimsuits developed over a number of years during swimming's "unfortunate digression", the benefits provided competitors increased. This study demonstrated the intrusion of this form of suit as having a technical equipment effect.

Reference

Chollet, D., Chalies S., & Chatard J. C. (2000). A new index of coordination for the crawl: description and usefulness. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 21(1), 54-59.

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