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Effect of fastskin suits on performance, drag, and energy cost of swimming.

Research paper by Jean-Claude JC Chatard, Barry B Wilson

Indexed on: 08 May '08Published on: 08 May '08Published in: Medicine and science in sports and exercise



Abstract

To investigate the effect of fastskin suits on 25- to 800-m performances, drag, and energy cost of swimming.The performances, stroke rate and distance per stroke, were measured for 14 competitive swimmers in a 25-m pool, when wearing a normal suit (N) and when wearing a full-body suit (FB) or a waist-to-ankle suit (L). Passive drag, oxygen uptake, blood lactate, and the perceived exertion were measured in a flume.There was a 3.2% +/- 2.4% performance benefit for all subjects over the six distances covered at maximal speed wearing FB and L when compared with N. When wearing L, the gain was significantly lower (1.8% +/- 2.5%, P < 0.01) than when wearing FB compared with N. The exercise perception was significantly lower when wearing FB than N, whereas there was no statistical difference when wearing L. The distance per stroke was significantly higher when wearing FB and L, whereas the differences in stroke rate were not statistically significant. There was a significant reduction in drag when wearing FB and L of 6.2% +/- 7.9% and 4.7% +/- 4.4%, respectively (P < 0.01), whereas the energy cost of swimming was significantly reduced when wearing FB and L by 4.5% +/- 5.4% and 5.5% +/- 3.1%, respectively (P < 0.01). However, the differences between FB and L were not statistically significant for drag and oxygen uptake.FB and L significantly reduced passive drag, and this was associated with a decreased energy cost of submaximal swimming and an increased distance per stroke, at the same stroke rates, and reduced freestyle performance time.