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2001/35/1 Collection of swimwear and accessories, 'Speedo', polyester / elastane, Speedo International, England / Japan / Korea, 2000. Click to enlarge.

Mens Speedo 'Fastskin' swimsuit with goggles and swimming cap

Speedo is the world's principal competitive swimwear designer and manufacturer. The Fastskin suit was Speedo's controversial design, produced specifically for competitors in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The suit was developed and trialled over several years by a team that included scientists, a bio-mechanist, a shark expert, a computer clothing company, a Japanese textile company, a swimming coach, and swimmers.

The core research team discovered that a shark's unique skin structure …


Object No.


Object Statement

Collection of swimwear and accessories, 'Speedo', polyester / elastane, Speedo International, England / Japan / Korea, 2000

Physical Description

Swimsuit, mens, 'Fastskin' with goggles, packaging, and swim cap, polyester / elastane, Speedo International, England / Japan / Korea, 2000

Stretch bodysuit of black polyester 76% / elastane 26% featuring high neckline, long sleeves and ankle length leg. Centre back zipper fastening. The bodysuit is made up of several contoured panels joined by highly elastic white flatlocked machine stitched seams. The knitted fabric is based on shark skin and features V shaped ridges with a denticle shaped print. The suit features a 'gripper' panel on the inner forearm made from nylon/elastane. Speedo logo printed in white on top right chest.

Speedo swimming cap: cap made of black silicone with the Speedo logo printed on front and back in white.

Pair of Speedo 'speed socket' goggles featuring anti fog coating. The goggles have an adjustable black rubber strap, clear plastic case with instructions for use and two spare nose bridges.


Swimsuit: white fabric label inside waist: 'SPEEDO/GB XL F XL/D XL I XL/MADE IN THE U.K./FABRIQUE AU ROYAUME UNI/...trademark and care information', reverse of label 'BODY/LE SUPPORT/76% Polyester/.../26% Elastane/.../PANEL/RANNEAUX/84% Nylon/.../16% Elastane/.../10-164-0001'.

Swimming cap: Speedo logo on front and back.

Goggles: Speedo logo on proper left lens and repeated along strap. 'CE MADE IN JAPAN/BS 5883:1996' printed in white on strap.



The Fastskin swimsuit was designed by a research and development team at Speedo International in the United Kingdom.

The team included scientists, a bio mechanist, a swimming coach, a computer clothing company, a Japanese textile company, a shark expert from the Natural History Museum of London, and several top international swimmers to trial the various prototypes.

The researchers found that the shark's unique skin structure minimised drag, enabling it to move quickly through water. From this idea they developed a 'skin' for swimmers with a texture that mimicked the dermal denticles (tooth shaped forms) on a shark's skin. Made from a knitted super-stretch nylon/elastane/polyester fabric the Fastskin features V shapes ridges and a denticle surface print. In water the effect of these surfaces combine, with large vortices formed by the fabric print flowing in the opposite direction to the small vortices formed in the fabric ridges. This ensures the water is sucked closer to the body, reducing friction drag on the swimmer by allowing surrounding water to pass over more effectively.

The high elastane content of the fabric improves shape retention and fit, minimising drag. The fabric also compresses the muscles, reducing muscle and skin vibration and thus decreasing fatigue and power loss.

Speedo used a body scanning technique to define an international elite swimmer's body measurements. The scanner takes a digital image of the athlete from 8 positions from which a 3-D body map is created. The swimmers bodies are scanned in various swimming positions to create the best fit for a variety of swimming positions

The research engaged the expertise of a bio-mechanist to study the co-ordination of muscle groups specific to swimming. The panels and seaming on the fastskin suit reflect the muscular system; the panels act like muscles, stretching and returning to shape while allowing a full range of movements, and the seams act like tendons, providing tension in the suit. The seams feature an enormous 26 stitches per 3cms which allows for maximum stretch without breakage. They are flatlocked (a technique that was also used in Speedo's 1930s swim wear) to eliminate drag, and the direction of the seams is designed to follow the direction of water flow over the body.

A special gripper panel was inserted into the inner forearm of the Fastskin. Elite swimmers do not shave this area of the body as they want to retain the feel of the water, which aids their assessment of speed. Speedo incorporated what they call a gripper fabric which mimics skin and fulfils the sensory requirements of the swimmer. Speedo has also produced other styles of Fastskin without the sleeves, as there is still some resistance from swimmers to using the long sleeves with gripper.

The Fastskin is the result of modern technology and a revolutionary approach to swimsuit design through the study of a sea creature, the shark.

This swimsuit was made in the UK by Speedo International. Swimsuits for the Australian market will be made at Speedo's Australian factory located outside Sydney at Windsor.

Speedo has been designing and manufacturing competitive and leisure swim wear since 1929. In the 1960s most of the world's top swimmers were competing in Speedo swim wear and in 1990 the company was purchased by the Pentland Group in the UK. Speedo retains a manufacturing and marketing base in Australia.

This Fastskin suit and its accessories were made in 2000. The research and development began in 1997.



Unused. Donated to the Powerhouse Museum by Speedo Australia as part of an on-going update of the museum's Speedo collection.


Credit Line

Gift of Speedo Australia, 2000

Acquisition Date

30 April 2001

Cite this Object


Mens Speedo 'Fastskin' swimsuit with goggles and swimming cap 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 7 December 2021, <>


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