Competitive swimwear brands have come a long way since they were first developed to help swimmers achieve faster swim times in the water. While most people are familiar with the style and materials that make competitive swimwear what it is today, these suits have been around since the early 1900s. What began as swimwear designed with modesty in mind has evolved into a revolutionary method of improving performance in the water.
Jantzen Knitting Mills
The first swimwear constructed in the United States was created by Jantzen Knitting Mills, a company that previously focused on making sweaters and hosiery. These suits were made entirely from wool, which made them extremely heavy and impractical for competitive swimming. In fact, the wool weighed as much as nine pounds when wet and created excess drag in the water. The suits also fit poorly, further causing problems for competition swimmers.
Speedo Enters the Picture
Speedo was the first of the major competitive swimwear brands to make the jump to designing more effective competitive swimwear, switching from manufacturing undergarments to swimwear in 1914. Their first design was the Racerback, which offered swimmers the coverage society demanded, while allowing them freedom of movement and less resistance in the water. Their suits quickly gained popularity in the United States and found international fame by the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Today, more than 90 percent of Olympic swimmers from around the world choose Speedo.
Changes to Materials
Today’s competitive swimwear has come a long way from the heavy wool from which the first suits were made. Speedo, along with the other major competitive swimwear brands, have made great strides in developing new materials that mimic shark skins and repel water better for enhanced performance. The latest Fastskin materials are designed to replicate shark skin and can help swimmers move more easily through the water. In fact, these suits have been worn by swimmers who broke 13 of 15 Olympic records in the 2000 Sydney games.
While competitive swimwear has come a long way, it’s hard to believe these suites are nearly 100 years old. Understanding their revolution will help you realize how great it is to be a competitive swimmer today instead of in the early 1900s. The advancements made are amazing, but the top competitive swimwear brands are still working toward even greater things.
If you are looking for the top competitive swimwear, contact us. We carry all the biggest brands, including Speedo, to give swimmers the competitive edge they want.