The ability of technology to lift elite athletes to even higher levels of performance is nothing new, but the way gear makers keep ahead of the rule creators remains, in some ways, a true marvel.
Records were famously — or infamously — obliterated by skintight body suits at the 2008 Games. Just because those suits were banned doesn’t mean suit designs put their tails between their legs and headed home.
MORE: Speedo unveils USA suits
And it’s not just swimming. There are some simply stunning, “I wouldn’t have thought of that” stories coming ahead the games. One company even designed sprint tape to be affixed to runners’ bodies to increase speed.
So, yeah, from suits designed for the breast stroke to tiny energy-preserving coils in distance running shoes, science will loom large in Rio. The gear designers appreciate the challenge of staying ahead of the trends.
They even relish it.
From the Associated Press:
“We make sure we stay inside those rules, but we will get to the very edge of them if we can,” said Adam Clement, senior creative director for team sports at Under Armour. “Our goal is to innovate in a way that ultimately makes the Olympic rules change. We’ll adjust, but we’ll feel proud of that accomplishment.”
Speedo unveiled the swimsuits its sponsored U.S. Olympians will be wearing in Rio.
That list includes Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Nathan Adrian and Conor Dwyer.
The list does not include Michael Phelps, whose 12-year Speedo contract ran out in 2013. Phelps now has his own line of swimwear through Aqua Sphere.
Images of the aforementioned swimmers, sans Phelps, below are courtesy of Speedo:
VIDEO: Inside Ryan Lochte’s home featuring ‘The Jeah Spot’
Missy Franklin agreed to an endorsement deal with Speedo, the suit she wore when winning four gold medals at the 2012 Olympics.
“Timing-wise, this is kind of perfect. The first thing that we really wanted to do was get a suit company so I would be ready for [World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August],” Franklin said, according to USA Today. “We thought that would be an awesome way, a summer before [Olympic] trials next year, to really start laying that foundation and start working as hard as I can for them.”
Franklin, 20, turned professional following her sophomore NCAA season at California in March. She will compete for the first time since the NCAA Championships at a Pro Swim Series meet in Santa Clara, Calif., this week.
Franklin is scheduled for four individual events at the World Championships, her same quartet from the London Games — 100m and 200m freestyles and 100m and 200m backstrokes. She could also swim in three women’s relays, plus possibly one mixed-gender relay, according to USA Today.
Mixed-gender relays are debuting at the World Championships this year.
Franklin’s deal with Speedo follows that of Michael Phelps, who signed with the company in 2001 and had a deal with Speedo through 2013, and Ryan Lochte, who is still a Speedo swimmer.
Video: Missy Franklin flies in F-16 with Air Force Thunderbirds