Swim Biz: NIKE Enters Dives Into the Hi-Tech Swim Suit Pool

BEAVERTON, Oregon, July 16. FOOTWEAR giant NIKE will enter the waters of competitive swimming with its new "Swift Swim" at the World Championships in Barcelona. The suit, which NIKE hopes will challenge high-tech suits by Speedo, TYR, adidas, Arena and others, will be introduced at a press conference in Barcelona tomorrow.

The suit was created by the same Nike Project Swift experts that developed Nike’s track and field Swift Suit, which debuted in 2000 at Sydney, and speedskating’s Swift Skin showcased in 2002 at Salt Lake City.

NIKE says its Swift Swim is a "revolutionary sports innovation applied to greatly enhance a swimmer’s body movement through the fluid medium of water.

"NIKE continually strives to find innovative solutions to help athletes move with maximum efficiency and to maximum potential.

"Using advanced proprietary testing methods, Project Swift has explored every aspect of a swimmer’s body in motion in the water to design a sleek, hydrodynamic body suit significantly more effective than skin. With this latest innovation, the hydrodynamic speed suits created under the Project Swift banner now stand among the most innovative pieces of competitive sports apparel to date.

Swift Swim's mission is "to create the world’s fastest world championship swimsuits through advanced apparel technology.

"Project Swift moved into the world of water by testing more than 40 kinds of textiles to meet the unique performance attributes intended for the Swift Swim. These fabrics were pulled from around the globe and tested for key qualities encompassing drag, water resistance, weight, buoyancy, and other components.

"Project Swift employs an advanced form of 'body mapping,' a process that scientifically determines placement of selected fabrics on certain body locations to work strategically and harmoniously with the athlete’s unique motion in relation to water flow. This maximizes the performance output against the negative effect of water friction, as well as other physiological and environmental factors.

"Nike employs the precise Tow Tank test, and in the process has set new swim-test standards. 'We take a precisely calibrated mannequin form,' says Matt Nordstrom, Swift Swim Designer, 'and drag it through
water. There are a lot of factors to determine a fast suit. Drag is one of them. We wanted to answer the basic question, ‘What’s faster: shaved skin or suit?’ The mannequin gave us a level of consistency that we don’t have using live swimmers, where variables
are harder to control for accurate measure. We learned that the materials we selected were faster than skin as well as competitor’s suits tested.' The Swift Swim suit does not cover a swimmer’s arms, as Nordstrom explains. 'Arms are the main propulsive element in swimming, and one of the few elements out of water.' The Swift Swim suit allows the arms free motion for maximum propulsion.

"Swift Swim has intricate seaming details, as seams have a large effect on body flow. Seams that run diagonally, for example, create drag. 'The goal of our suits,' says Nordstrom, 'is to create a profile of water over the suit that’s as clean as possible, reducing or eliminating seams, aligned with flow. The transition of skin to suit is as smooth as possible, using Nike No Sew fabric technology. We were very conscious of seam direction and placement.'

"Project Swift performed dry and wet fit sessions and additional testing with a host of world-class swimmers, including Sydney gold medalist Pieter van den Hoogenband of The Netherlands, US swimmers Jason Lezak, Haley Cope, and Kristy Kowal, and the University of Arizona swim team. Says Nordstrom, 'We rely on their in-pool perceptions of the Swift Swim suit.' All gave the suit high marks for speed, fit and performance.

The initial Swift Swim line will include three styles for women and four styles for men, in three colorways: USA, Dutch and Nike Global. Because of exacting body fit and ergonomic considerations, the women’s and men’s suits were designed independently of each other, to take into account different physical characteristics and fit.

Haley Cope, New Nike Suit

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