Just in time for the 2021 Olympic swimming trials, Speedo has unveiled a high-tech design concept for what it thinks swimsuits will look like in 2040. Spoiler: Apparently, we’ll all be splashing around looking like extras from Aquaman.
Dubbed the Fastskin 4.0, the swimsuit is the brainchild of Speedo’s Aqualab research and development team. Speedo in a press release said the main goal was to create a suit that focused on customisation, speed performance, and sustainability. The result is something that sounds like it was pulled straight out of science fiction.
For starters, Speedo envisions every suit will be 3D-printed to custom fit an athlete’s body, down to every muscle and micrometre. The suit’s fabric will also be “grown” from bio-engineered, genetically modified bacteria so that 80% of it will biodegrade once it’s no longer usable. For something so close-fitting, Speedo says it’s designed an “Adaptive Smart Lock Seal” that lets you slip on this thing easily, while also allowing swimmers to customise compression at the neck, wrist, and ankle. OK, sure!
The suit will supposedly feature Shark Skin 4.0 Boosters texture designed to adapt to your movement to “direct water off the suits and maximise propulsion from every stroke and kick.” In that vein, the stomach and back of the legs will feature Dynamic Flow Zones based on a whale’s underbelly to reduce drag and water separation. At the front and back of the suit, there are gold fixtures that comprise what Speedo calls a Core Reactor, in case swimmers want to channel their inner Iron Man. Apparently, it responds to an athlete’s body position in the water and “adjusts buoyancy.”
If that doesn’t sound ridiculous enough, supposedly the fabric also harvests energy to power itself based on temperature differences between an athlete’s body and the water. Why would a swimsuit need power? Well, silly, it’s because the Fastskin 4.0 will feature an AI coach. The suit will have micro-sensors printed into its structure to monitor vitals like oxygen saturation, glucose levels, and hydration. The data collected from the sensors will also then provide live feedback on technique, pace, position, and conditioning via haptics. On top of the AI coach, the suit will also feature a built-in exoskeleton that will “extend and contract as necessary around the athlete’s joints and core to harness their explosive power, hip and shoulder rotation, and every stroke down the length for maximum amplitude and forward movement.”
This is a lot of words to say, “This tech will make swimmers go zoom zoom in the water.” More specifically, Speedo thinks the Fastskin 4.0 would theoretically improve sprint times by 4%. In terms of events, Speedo thinks it could lead to the first women’s 800m freestyle in under eight minutes, and to 19 seconds in the men’s 50m freestyle.
Of course, 2040 is still nearly 20 years away, and it’s likely this sort of balls-to-the-wall swimsuit will be for elite athletes rather than a day at the beach. And the International Olympic Committee will have to figure out whether something like the Fastskin 4.0 would count as an unfair advantage. But in the meantime, we can always take bets on how fast a 55-year-old Michael Phelps would be in one of these suits.