Monday July 21, 2003
Ian Thorpe will be the first swimmer to use adidas' new "Jetconcept" full bodysuit when he hits the water at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona this week. The suit design takes a new approach to reducing drag by using small integrated "riblets" that shift turbulence away from the body.
adidas was the first company to introduce a full bodysuit in competitive swimming in 1998, but until now the designs have focussed on drag caused by friction on the surface of the swimmer (which accounts for only 8% of overall drag) rather than form drag caused by the shape of a swimmer (which accounts for 56%).
Following the Sydney Olympics in 2000 adidas researchers began working on the problem and by adapting technology already used in aircraft design they created the Jetconcept.
The "riblets" incorporated into the bodysuit channel the water as it flows over the swimmers body and result in a shift in turbulence that reduces the amount of water a swimmer carries on his back. This provides a feeling of being "higher" in the water and trials have shown improved times according to adidas.
Ian Thorpe, who first started to use the now familiar full bodysuit in 1999, was part of the development process for the Jetconcept from the beginning.