The Year in Science: Technology 1997

Motion is the Root of All EvilSwim Suit

By Lybi Ma|Thursday, January 01, 1998
RELATED TAGS: MATERIALS SCIENCE
When a female swimmer is looking for advantages over her competition, she might try on a new swimsuit. Not to make a fashion statement, but to reduce drag on her body has it moves through the water.

A major component of drag, a frictional force that acts in the opposite direction of an object’s motion, occurs when water flows over a woman’s breasts. As water hits the chest, flows to the top of the breasts and starts down the other side, it begins to separate from the surface of the swimsuit, creating eddies, which absorb the swimmer’s momentum. Engineers at Mizuno, Japan’s largest sporting goods manufacturer, put 126 silicone pins, each tk inches long, on the area of a swimsuit just below the breasts. When the water strikes the pins, it breaks up into many small eddies, which act to keep the water flowing closer to the swimsuit, reducing drag. Mizuno engineers took a page from their counterparts in aerospace, who have been known to place protruding structures on airplane wings.

Mizuno, which makes the suit jointly with Speedo, says the suit reduced drag by tk percent in tests. The first suits are expected to be on the shelves in when? in the U.S.
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