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2001/35/2 Swimsuit, womens, 'Fastskin', Australian Olympic team Sydney 2000, polyester / elastane, by Speedo International, England / Australia, 2000. Click to enlarge.

Womens 'Fastskin' swimsuit by Speedo International

Speedo is the world's principal competitive swimwear designer and manufacturer. The Fastskin suit is its latest and most controversial design, produced specifically for competitors in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

The museum has an extensive collection of Speedo swimwear and accessories dating from the 1930's to the present, including designs produced for the Australian Olympic team from 1964-2000, the Australian Commonwealth Games team from 1970-1994 as well as designs produced for several …


Object No.


Object Statement

Swimsuit, womens, 'Fastskin', Australian Olympic team Sydney 2000, polyester / elastane, by Speedo International, England / Australia, 2000

Physical Description

Swimsuit, womens, 'Fastskin', polyester/ elastane, Australian team, Olympic Games Sydney 2000, Speedo International, England/ Australia, 2000.

Womens stretch bodysuit of navy blue polyester / elastane with yellow panels under arm, down inner sleeve and lower back leg. Swimsuit features 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 green 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. Series of applied black [silicone] dots over chest area. Speedo logo printed in white at top right chest above the text 'AUS' and five stars. At top left chest printed in white is the Australian coat of arms above the Olympic rings and the text 'SYDNEY 2000'. Size 27". Machine sewn and unlined.



270 mm



The Fastskin swimsuit was designed by a research and development team at Speedo International in the United Kingdom. This particular suit was made for the Australian team and features the colours blue, green and gold/yellow. Traditionally the Australian swimming team and other Australian international sport teams have competed in green and gold clothing (officially Australia's national colours since 1984). Speedo marketing manager Tim Lees noted that the blue/green/gold colours did depart from the official Australian colours but that they have been used in the past as Australia's colours.
The dominance of blue in the swimsuit is probably due to the complex nature of the fabric and its limited use, making it uneconomical to die the fabric a range of different colours to suit the national colours of each country the swimsuit is being produced for. Rather the stitching and contrast panels at the arms and legs feature selected contrasting colours.

The team who developed the original swimsuit included scientists, a biomechanist, a swimming coach, a computer clothing company, a Japanese textile company, a shark expert from the Natural History Museum of London as well as 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 sharks 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 which reduces friction drag on the swimmer by allowing surrounding water to pass over more effectively.

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

Speedo used a body scanning technique to define the international elite swimmer's body in measurement terms. 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 also engaged the expertise of a biomechanist 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, while 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 swimwear) 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 incorpated what they call a gripper fabric which mimics skin and replaces the sensory requirements of the swimmer. Speedo have 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 Australia at Speedo's Windsor factory. The factory will be closing in March 2001 and all manufacturing of Speedo garments will be done overseas. However the Windsor factory will become a design centre for Speedo's expanding leisurewear ranges.

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

This suit was designed in 1997.:This suit was made in 2000.



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


Womens 'Fastskin' swimsuit by Speedo International 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 June 2022, <>


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