In the early 1900s, swimming costumes were designed in a manner that was meant to cover nakedness and promote dignity and societal morals. People never used to consider the ease with which one would swim with the costume or instead of the speed at which the swimmers moved. Annette Kellerman, a trailblazer in swimming, was the first individual to introduce swimming garments that showed thighs (Charlottesville, Va 1944). This astonished people as they did not expect it. However much these new swimming garments were not welcome, they made swimming more comfortable and faster because they were lighter and less bulky (Bartle & O’Connor, 1998).
With the changing times and increase in swimming sports, better swimming garments have been made through the learning of disciplines such as biomechanics of swimming and fluid dynamics. These disciplines focus on making better swimming garments through changing the natural human body shape (Franklin, C. 2013). They do this by making it compact to give it a figure that is much more adaptable for locomotion in water. Therefore, the idea of wearing revealing garments that uncover the body to make swimming easier was curbed. The people no longer had to worry about the exposure of their bodies nor the bulkiness and fatigue while swimming. The new technology had killed two birds with one stone hence meeting the immediate need that was required.
High Technology Swimming suits were introduced in the year 2004 when Speedo and NASA engineers united to make this unique clothing. This clothing is made from polyurethane, nylon and spandex fabrics, unlike the new swimming costumes that are made of woven fabrics such as cotton and wool. These synthetic materials were considered fit to make swimsuits since they reduced resistance to water and were also water repellent. (Franklin, C. 2013). Besides, the garment did not absorb water. This garment made swimming much more comfortable and even improved the sporting experience. According to the 2009 sports reports, more than 130 world records were surpassed from the year 2008 to 2009.
However, the International Swimming Federation has in the recent years restricted the use of High Tech Swimsuits due to the claim that they make swimming much more comfortable than it is supposed to be. Therefore, a proposal that this research study should be carried out to determine whether the swimsuits have an added advantage was made. This research paper will highlight the benefits of using High Tech Suits (HTS) in swimming and expound on them as well.
What are the advantages of using high tech suits in swimming?
This study is based on both the qualitative and quantitative methodologies of research to establish the advantages of using High Tech Suits in swimming. Qualitative research methodologies include interviews and histories while quantitative methods entail measurements through statistical analysis of the collected data.
This research was carried out on 20 top ranking swimmers such as Michael Phelps and seven coaches. Fans for swimming sports were also invited to air their views on the use of High Tech Swimsuits.
Methods of Data Collection
The methods that were used to collect data include interviews, observations, and experiments. Meetings required appointments with the individuals who were to be interviewed to be booked while observation and experimenting demanded an active role in the paper.
The interviews proved challenging to carry out since some of the interviewees could not be accessed physically. Therefore, telephone interviews had to be carried out. Despite the difficulties, enough information was gathered from the participants.
The members who were swimming using the High Tech Suits while floating and those that were not using the High Tech Suits in swimming were all observed. The researcher got more information by personally experimenting the swimsuits as well.
Secondary Data Sources
Secondary data entails data that was collected earlier on by different individuals for different purposes but was still found useful in this particular research.
Data were obtained from the sports department offices concerning the swimming competitions in the previous years where competitors never used High Tech Suits for swimming. Through this information, comparisons were made with the current data. The disparity between early swimming participants and those who used the newly invented swimming suits was identified.
In the literature review, High Tech Suits are defined as unique swimming garments that are made of synthetic materials such as spandex, nylon, and rubber. These materials are repulsive to water and reduce resistance to water when someone is swimming (Franklin, C. 2013). Also, the contents do not absorb water. The garment is manufactured in such a way that it traps a layer of air within it to increase the floating ability of the user in water. The material for making this swimming garment has had a transition from rubberized cotton to Lycra then spandex. It was introduced in 2004 by a company called Speedo with the aim of making swimming more enjoyable and less straining. Many other companies have been able to manufacture the garment in recent years.
The review incorporates a study that was carried out in the years 2008 to 2009. The study identified that the use of High Tech Suits increased the speed of swimming by 4%. Apparently, 43 new world records were set during the swimming competition in Rome in the year 2009. According to a study done by the Feinberg School of Medicine at North-Western University in Chicago, the High Tech Swim Suits gave the swimmers more merit and privilege in their success, besides their constant practice and ability (Franklin, C. 2013). When the High Tech Suits became prohibited in swimming competition, few members could hardly win medals safe for Michael Phelps who has been an all-time champion in the sport.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research indicates that more members started joining the swimming competition on the introduction of these unique garments for swimming but then withdrew when the costume was banished. The study also states that the suit reduced friction in water by 38%. Similarly, another research indicates that the High Tech Swimsuit can trap some air within it hence increasing the ability to float while swimming.
Another study shows that the drag of a human being moving in water is seven hundred and eighty times that of running in the air. Therefore, the High Tech Suit ensures that the swimmer’s body is kept above the water as much as possible to increase the swimming speed. By increasing the floating ability, the drag is reduced by around 8%. However, one needs to take 30 minutes putting on the garment which could be so discouraging every time one goes for swimming. The clothing was also discovered to have a short lifespan and therefore needed constant renewal. Thus, the garment could prove to be much expensive to the users as they have to replace it regularly.
In his research, Rance also indicates that the High Tech Swimsuit supports floating of the swimmer and therefore it should not be used as such. He goes farther to say that if only the manufacturing technique is altered and the floating effect eliminated, then it can be functional sportswear for swimming. It should be adopted as long as it maintains the purpose of swimming as a sporting activity.
The review focuses on the materials used to make the High Tech Swimsuit and the characteristics of the garment that make it different from all the other swimming costumes. The review, therefore, enables us to deduce the advantages of using this High Tech Swimsuit over the other swimming costumes.
The interviews, observations, experiments and the systematic literature review were used to analyze the various advantages of using High Tech Swimsuits. The study was done from multiple research documents and was able to reveal the numerous benefits of High Tech Swimsuits.
In interviewing the twenty swimming champions and seven coaches and doing our observations and experiments, it was established that, first, High Tech Swimsuits improve the floating ability of the swimmer by 38%. It was also determined that it increases the swimmer’s speed by 4%. Thirdly, it was discovered that these particular swimming garments prevented minor injuries since they could trap in the air within them to mask the body against various injuries. It was also established that the swimsuits made the body compact giving it an ideal body shape to swim. Lastly, it was discovered that the High Tech Suits moved water smooth and swift as it was made of soft and glossy synthetic materials.
According to the study findings, it was found out that the High Tech Swimwear reduces injuries of the swimmers. This is due to the ability of the costume to trap air within it and therefore acting as an insulator towards the body (Franklin, C. 2013. Thus, in the case that one hits an object, they cannot get injured. For the individuals who use two costumes, it is an added advantage since they can have another layer between the suits, making them more protected. The full body costume as well protects by covering both the arms and limbs. The entire covering reduces the effect of the cold aquatic environment on the swimmer and therefore adapts them much more to the situation. The swimmers can, therefore, be able to spend more extended time in the waters and go for longer distances in their Olympics. Maximum protection can improve the sporting activity by an increase in the competing intervals for the participants.
Again, the costume makes the body compact, giving it a streamlined shape different from the natural human figure. This streamlined body shape enables the swimmer to move more swiftly in the water (Cameron, 2017). This leads to high speed in swimming and hence a result of the unexpected outcomes during the swimming competitions. The compressing of the body does not affect the movement of the body nor the breathing system. It only improves the gliding experience of the swimmer.
Similarly, High Tech Suits increase the ability of the swimmer to float. The floating capability is achieved through the layer of air trapped within the garment. When an individual finds it easy to glide, it becomes less strenuous when swimming and therefore they can swim faster. This reduces fatigue and helps preserve health even in the cold environment of water. Through this, the swimming experience is made much easier and more enjoyable for the swimmers.
Also, the High Tech Swimsuit enables the swimmer to have a smooth movement through the water. It does this by reducing water resistance. The rubber, nylon, spandex, and polystyrene materials are synthetic making the garment stable and hence less friction.
High Tech Swimsuits are chlorine resistant. These swimming garments are made out of suitable quality materials which are not readily destroyed by contact with chlorine. Considering that swimming pools always have a regular addition of Chlorine, the swimmer with an ordinary swimwear will keep on purchasing new ones a lot more frequently than a person having a High Tech swimming garment (Brammer, Cornett, & Stager, 2017). Chlorine wears out swimming garments through bleaching effect, making them look ugly after using it for but a short while.
The garments cover the body well enough protecting it from the cold. The swimmer also enjoys freedom from the adverse effects of Chlorine on their skin. This way, people can freely engage in swimming without having skin irritation and burns.
Also, High Tech swimming garments do not cause friction when in contact with the swimmer’s body (Cameron, 2017). As the swimmer needs to make a lot of moves forth and back, no injuries are caused by friction since the High Tech Swimsuit is made of quality material that is smooth and does not cause any friction.
Finally, the High Tech Swimsuit promotes faster movement by reducing bulkiness. This is because it is made of light material. Apart from being made of a light material, it does not absorb water.
However, there have been many disputes over the use of High Tech Swimsuits. In the USA, the use of swimsuits for young children below the age of 12 years has been prohibited. This is because children from the humble background cannot afford the suit which is bought at a very high price. This will not be fair for them as they will have to compete without them or be excluded from the competitions.
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) also prohibited the use of swimming garments that are not made of fabrics. It stated that all the swimming clothes made of the synthetic materials should not be used (Olsen, 2018). Their seams and borders also should not be glued but rather stitched. It as well stated that costumes that cover the whole body were not to be worn during competitions. Instead, they were to be short sleeved. According to Crouse and Karen, the swimming activity should be independent, and the competitor is supposed to use their effort and strength. They further state that if a competitor’s ability to float is made more accessible, then there is not enough effort employed. The whole point of using High Tech Swimsuits nullifies the essence of the swimming sport. Therefore, FINA put rules on limiting the amount of material that was being used in making the garments. The thickness of the clothing, as well as the manufacturing techniques, were also restricted.
The federation also prohibited those competitors who put on more than one suit to stop doing so. This acted as a disadvantage to competitors who were not able to buy more than one outfit. Due to this, their counterparts could gain the added advantage on winning since it was easier for them to float as a result of multiple layers of trapped air.
On the contrary, Rance argues that the use of technology used to exist in the early 1900s and therefore it ought to be embraced even in the current age. He says that the High Tech Suits should be adopted thoroughly to make the swimming activity more enjoyable and appealing (Olsen, 2018, p. 23). Besides, he adds that other sports activities use technology such as golf, rugby, cricket and tennis and therefore swimming is no exception. He says that swimsuits that do not support floating should be introduced to get rid of the support gained by competitors while floating. The floating ability of the swimwear can be eliminated by changing the way in which the cloth is manufactured and also improving its material.
From the above discussion, it is clear that the advantages of using High Tech Suits for swimming tend to lean so much on making the sporting activity more comfortable for the swimmer. It lessens the effort of the swimmer, and therefore they do not have to put a lot of effort in propelling themselves through the water. Ideally, this reduces the whole essence of swimming. Naturally, the human body is supposed to employ its abdominal strength to drive through the water. When the costume gives the support in floating and gliding through, then the effort is not bought at work. Therefore, the High Tech Swimsuits can be of less value to an individual who is aiming at exercising various body muscles.
Besides, with the use of the High Tech Swimsuits more people could be encouraged to join the sporting activity not because they desire to but just because they need money. Even those who do not have the talent and ability can join the sport since the effort required is lessened. As a result of this, the activity will become too crowded and lose its meaning.
If the High Tech Suits are still used to lessen the effort required of swimmers, it should be let alone and allow the competitors to swim without them. Otherwise, it could be a better idea to incorporate such technology if better ways are sought to manufacture the garment in such a way that it shall not lessen the effort required and the importance of swimming as well. Swimming is one of the most essential and crucial sporting activity that should be given much attention as the others as it gives humanity a new experience in a different environment hence enabling us to learn the lesson of adapting to the changing circumstances of life.