World records have been falling all over the world when swimmers wear the Speedo LZR Racer Swimsuits. Swimming teams are now desparate to swim in them.
The Speedo LZR suit took four years to develop and involved Nasa and computational fluid dynamics, says Jason Rance, head of Speedo's Aqualab. He adds that the swimsuit can reduce drag by up to 24%.
Bodysuits have been used in competitive swimming for 15 years and are all designed to reduce drag.
One way to do this is to engineer the surface to be rough not smooth. This creates a small amount of turbulence in the thin layer of water close to the material. This prevents water from passing over it evenly, it's the same principle behind the dimples in golf balls, according to Mike Caine, director of the Sports Technology Institute at Loughborough University.
But Rance says the LZR does something different. It is made of two types of material, one woven and coated with water repellant, the other an extremely smooth polyurethane membrane. Both are specifically designed to create very little friction when the water flows over it.
The LZR is also designed to hug the body 70 times tighter than other suits. This squashes the body together like a corset to make it more streamlined.