Roberts, B. S., Kamel, K. S., Hedrick, C. E., McLean, S. P., & Sharp, R. L. (2003). Effect of a FastSkin™ suit on submaximal freestyle swimming. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35, 519-524.

Male collegiate swimmers (N = 9) swam three 183-m freestyle trials at "moderate, moderately hard, and hard" paces while wearing a traditional brief-style suit and on another occasion while wearing a newly designed suit covering the torso and legs with a material designed to reduce drag (Speedo's FASTSKIN). Post-swim blood lactate concentration, VO2, and rating of perceived exertion were measured. Average stroke length and rate, and breakout distance were determined for each swimming trial. Passive drag and buoyant force were also determined when wearing both suits.

Ss swam at a higher mean velocity while wearing the FASTSKIN, but this was accompanied by a significant increase in VO2 and blood lactate concentration [the higher velocity was accompanied by a greater physiological cost]. Comparison of physiological responses at standardized freestyle swimming speeds of 1.4 and 1.6 m/s revealed no significant difference between the two suit conditions. Passive drag of the swimmers while being towed was not significantly different between the suits. Swimmers were significantly more buoyant while wearing the brief-style suit than the FASTSKIN suit.

Implication. The FASTSKIN did not provide any physical or physiological benefits of wearing these suits during submaximal freestyle swimming.

[This study actually tested full swimming strokes. Its results contradict those found in investigations that use passive gliding or gliding + kicking. It demonstrates how dangerous it is to generalize from one activity to another no matter what elements are in common.]

Return to Table of Contents for Hydrodynamics of Swimming.