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A Recent History of Swimsuits

A short walk down memory lane

Special Advertorial

As swim seasons come and go, and what we use at the pool changes with fads and new rules, we often narrow our focus to the latest and greatest and forget about awesome (and maybe less awesome) products from the past. With technology at its peak, perhaps it’s time to blast to the past and revisit some of our favorite old swimsuits.

Today's tech suits are being made using thicker and tighter compression fabrics, but who can forget about some of the original tech suits presented by adidas; a full body, front zipper almost loose-fitting lycra suit probably more adequate for sun coverage than racing. These were certainly eye catchers in adidas’ classic navy and bright yellow stripe design.

Certainly adidas didn’t have the only flashy suit. Well before the days of full-body suits, Speedo ruled the pizazz market. Possibly the shiniest of suits were the Speedo holograms. From just small sections of lycra suits showing the hologram design to full coverage, almost rubbery hologram suits (S2000 suits, aka “cat suit”) made everyone look like a mirror on the deck. And if you were a fan of it then, get ready because one of Speedo's 2012 Team USA prints will feature a bit of shine (“Home of the Fast”).

Most similar to some of today’s tech suits were the racing suits known as paper suits. Introduced in a conservative cut and only available in black and navy, these suits quickly became popular as the “french cut,” ie. skimpy cuts made their way to the pool. Naturally printed paper suits also had their fair share of play, featuring colorful dot and bubble prints, some of which I still possess.

But sometimes it’s the story behind the suit that truly makes it a memory, like the Batman-looking Arena Strush SR competition suit that used NASA-developed panels (often featured in bright gold) to reduce water resistance. Also space-inspired were the TYR Aqua Shift Tripwire technology suits, some silver in color with uranium finish, which were originally paired with the Aqua Band sleeves to increase hydrodynamics with compression.

Even the advertising used can make greatness out of your average training suit, like the catalog picture of Gary Hall Jr. shown golfing while wearing a men’s flower print Victor brand suit. So the next time you gleefully stride across the deck in what you think is the latest and greatest swimsuit, just keep in mind that you may be making memories for someone else.

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