Tech Suits, What They Do And How They Work
Many people have seen Olympic swimming or some form of elite competitive swimming. Most swimmers have a cap, goggles, and a racing suit. These suits might not look anything fancy however they have millions of dollars of design research behind them to make sure the athletes wearing them have an advantage.
There are a few factors that separates tech suits from normal practice suits are that tech suits are much lighter, tighter, and don't absorb water. The fibers in the suits are flexible so that the wearer can still move but most athletes who wear them will tell you that they are not comfortable. The theory behind these suits is that the tighter the suit is the less drag it will produce making the swimmer faster and more efficient. Another thing in these suits that males them cause less drag is the way seams are made. Instead of traditional woven seams, techsuits use laser bonded seams to create a flush water resistant joining of the materials. The non-water absorbent fibers prevent the suit from taking on water and adding weight to the suit and swimmer. You can see this demonstrated by most suits when the swimmer exits the water their suit will be covered in shiny water droplets due to the surface tension of the water like in the photo below.
These suits might be fast but they come at a cost. Tech Suits for guys can range anywhere from 150 to 400 dollars with women's suits ranging from 300 to 700 dollars. Why are women's suits more expensive? Simply because the suits have much more fabric in them than male suits. For men's suits, FINA rules say that the suits can only go from slightly above the hips down to anywhere above the knee. For female suits the suits go from above the knee all the way up and around the shoulders like a tank top. The additional fabric needed to cover the chest and back, as well as the fancy engineering needed to make the shoulder straps somewhat comfortable results in the Women's suits being incredibly expensive.
Something that many people forget is that putting on tight clothing is hard. Ever tried to fit into a pair of pants that were too small? Putting on a tech suit is 10 times harder. Most athletes wear techsuits that are a few sizes smaller than their standard clothing size. For example I would wear size 34 waist for standard pants but 28 for a tech suit. Going smaller reduces the lifespan of the suit but increases compression and lowers drag. As you can imagine putting these suits on is very difficult. Because the suits are so lightweight the fabric is thin and rips easily. Most of the girls that I swam with had to help each other get their suits on as the shoulder straps are nearly impossible to get on alone. If you want to see normal people trying on these suits check out https://img.youtube.com/vi/HVqPZn32vgE/sddefault.jpg