The Germany-based Hohenstein Institute has completed an initial practical test on a new high-tech
swimsuit prototype developed by Sarah Ziem, a student at the University of Reutlingen, Germany. The
swimsuit fabric comprises an ultra-lightweight textile material coated with a special nano-sol
super-hydrophobic coating in which microbubbles trapped between the fibers create an ultra-thin air
cushion that allows the swimmer to glide through the water. According to the institute, the
technology — which mimics the natural waterproofness of the feathers of water birds such as
penguins — substantially complies with stricter regulations passed in 2009 by the International
Swimming Federation (FINA) in response to concerns about an unusually large number of records
broken by swimmers wearing certain high-tech swimsuits in 2008-09 competitions.
Ziem, also a competitive swimmer, developed the swimsuit as part of her bachelor’s degree
dissertation. She worked under the supervision of Walter Marx, a professor at Reutlingen, and also
received support from Dr. Jan Beringer, Hohenstein Institute; CHT R. Beitlich GmbH, a Germany-based
manufacturer of textile auxiliaries, dyes and performance chemicals; and Italy-based performance
fabric manufacturer Mectex S.p.A.
Commenting on results of early trials, Ziem stated: “[The swimsuit] has even exceeded our
expectations. When it is compared with a standard swimsuit, there are obvious benefits in flow
behaviour which are reflected in improved speed.” According to Hohenstein, the swimsuit remained
completely dry through long training periods.
The coating is undergoing further improvement before being introduced to the market.
March 22, 2011