When you're designing a shirt, it makes sense to cut the fabrics so that the wearer is most comfortable with their arms down at their sides in a resting position. But for a swimmer, whose arms are constantly in motion, Roka Sports believes it's advantageous to instead design a wetsuit with an athlete's arms raised and reaching for the next stroke.
It's always a good idea to take a product's claims of performance gains with a grain of salt, but when it comes to competitive swimming, we've seen time and time again that even the smallest changes in a wetsuit's design can lead to faster lap times — when permitted.
Roka Sports' new Maverick X wetsuit promises to make you slice through the water like a dolphin. The wetsuit includes a strategic use of buoyant materials to ensure a swimmer's body is positioned to maximise movement and stroke power, and a Frankenstein-like patchwork of fabrics with varying properties that easily compress or stretch as needed.
But it's the Revolution X technology, where the Roka Sports' pattern designers started with a swimmer's arms in a raised position before creating cutting templates for the neoprene fabrics, that could make the biggest difference.
If you've ever worn a tight shirt and then tried to raise your arms above your head, you've already experienced the problem this design is trying to solve. The easier a swimmer can move their arms, the easier it will be for them to exert as much of their energy as possible towards propelling themselves through the water.
There's no word on whether or not we'll be seeing Olympic athletes in Rio wearing the new Maverick X wetsuit, or if it's even permitted in official competition. But anyone can buy one for $US900 ($1199), so the next time you're racing at the local pool, you'll be all but guaranteed to smoke all of your friends in the water.