Zoom out, Zoom in and Speedo Fastskin – The 200 words project

Here’s this week’s 200 word idea from Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath..

Speedo hired Fiona Fairhurst in the 90’s with one objective – design a swimsuit to make swimmers faster.

Instead of zooming into the current version of swimsuits, she began “zooming out” and studying things that go really fast in the water. A breakthrough moment was when she touched the skin of a 9 foot shark at London’s Natural History museum . It was exceedingly rough/sharp when she ran her fingers in one direction and smooth on the other. This roughness reduced drag and increased thrust. So, she found a fabric that had a good similarity.

Then, taking inspiration from a torpedo, she designed a suit that covered the whole body. Olympic medal winner Jenny Thompson hated it until her coach pointed out she was close to her world record pace despite not diving in – by compressing all lumps and bumps, the suit gave swimmers a torpedo-like effect.

Speedo had trouble getting the suit approved as the FINA said it wasn’t “aesthetic.” They believed people liked the pool because of the skin on show. Eventually, 83% of the winners wore the “Fastskin” swimsuit at the Sydney Olympics. The advantage become so big that some fabrics were banned in 2010.

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Source and thanks to: www.EBSketchin.com

‘If I’m going to look at things fast, I look at everything that goes fast and mechanism that makes things go fast – Boats, torpedoes, animals etc.’ | Fiona Fairhurst