'Swim Skins'

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'Swim Skins'

Postby Canuck Singh » Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:06 pm

Swim Skins
At the last Olympic Games we saw a number of elite Australian swimmers wearing a variety of nylon black full body suits called “swim skins” in their events. These suits appear to have helped, the Aussies produced their best ever medal tally at these games. These suits are made with material designed to reduce drag and enhance floatation. Many competitive swimmers are keen to know if the black suits help performance in the pool.

In a recent study, nine male collegiate swimmers swam a number of 183-meter freestyle trials at "moderate, moderately hard, and hard" paces while wearing either a traditional brief-style suit or the newly designed “swim skin” suits that coverer the torso and legs.

Post-swim blood lactate concentrations, oxygen consumption and rating of perceived exertion were measured in this study. Average stroke length and rate, and breakout distance were determined for each swimming trial. Passive drag and buoyant force were also determined on swimmers while wearing traditional brief-style swimming suits and the swim skins.

Results showed that the participants swam at a higher mean velocity while wearing the swim skin suit but this was accompanied by a significant increase in oxygen consumption and blood lactate concentration. This means that the swimmers were working harder to get through the water when they wore the swim skin suits.

A comparison of physiological responses at standardized freestyle swimming speeds of 1.4 and 1.6 meters/second revealed no significant difference in performance between the two suits. Passive drag was not significantly different between the suits. Surprisingly, the swimmers were significantly more buoyant while wearing the brief-style suit than the swim skin suit.

The US researchers concluded that their findings provide no evidence of either physical or physiological benefits of wearing the swim skin suits during submaximal freestyle swimming. But then again, this research may be a jealous attempt by US scientists to slow down those super Aussie swimmers and give the US swimmers a fighting chance at the next Olympic Games!

Ref: Med. Sci. Sports Exerc.35:519-524, 2003.
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