As swimmers gear up for Rio, Arena’s record-breaking carbon technology suit has gone to yet another level with the new ‘Powerskin’ Carbon-Ultra suit, the result of the company’s work with Cambridge-based Innovia Technology.

The suit incorporates an outer ‘carbon cage’ shell to maximise hydrodynamics with a revolutionary inner ‘Ultra-Link System’ to optimise the athlete’s physiology.

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The ‘power inside’ concept was inspired by Arena’s work with Innovia Technology, a global breakthrough innovation consultancy that has brought cutting-edge science to swimwear.

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Innovia has been working with Arena since 2008, providing new levels of theoretical understanding into how a swimsuit can be designed to maximise the effectiveness of the swimmer’s actions in the water.

At the 2012 Olympics in London, swimmers wearing the arena Powerskin Carbon-Pro suit won 35 medals, including 10 gold medals, and beat four world records. At the Kazan World Championships in 2015 a further four world records tumbled and 24 gold medals were gained. Then, at the World Short Course Championships in Doha in 2015, athletes wearing Arena’s carbon technology suits excelled, with 23 gold medals and seven new world records.

Arena was the first swimwear company to engage in textile and fluid dynamics research in order to develop the fastest, lightest, smoothest and most durable products for the competitive and recreational swimmer.

Now, the company is releasing its newest swimsuit, the Powerskin Carbon-Ultra, ahead of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio.

The R&D team at arena, along with Innovia and an international scientific network, have analysed how introducing an active inner layer can maximise the effectiveness of the swimmer’s actions in the water, over and above the existing benefits of the Powerskin Carbon series.

Andy Milton, innovation consultant at Innovia, insists that the Powerskin Carbon series has taken high performance swimwear to a new level: “To support the breakthrough design, we integrated deep knowledge of the physiology and mechanics of swimming with insights into apparel development. This embraced fluid mechanics, material science, physiology and psychology.

“As a result, we were able to provide arena with options for the design of the suit, including guidelines for fabric construction, and also advice for communicating the benefits of the technology effectively to professionals.”

The Powerskin Carbon series introduced a cutting-edge carbon weave, which provides intelligent compression, keeping the athlete’s body in the optimum position at all times. Carbon fibres are thinner than a human hair and intricately woven into the suits. The result is a suit that is remarkably strong and durable, and able to compress without constricting. These strong fibres also prevent the immense stress on the muscles that many swimmers experience while competing.

The new suit takes carbon technology further, according to the company. It says that the outer shell features an Ultra-Cage where increased carbon in the material provides a strongly anisotropic response – meaning it is ‘stretchy’ in one direction and stiff in another – accurately conforming to an athlete’s shape, distributing pressure to streamline the body and make every movement count.

In addition, the Carbon-Ultra suit incorporates a new level of support and movement management with an internal structure: the Ultra-Link System. By connecting key muscle groups and isolating upper and lower body movements, this system increases the swimmer’s efficiency and improves body position in the water. And by targeting specific compression zones, it further supports and streamlines the body to reduce turbulence and drag.

Dan Ward, from Innovia’s design team, comments: “The biggest difference is the internal structure which maximises the effectiveness of the swimmer’s actions in the water. The vital element in the ultimate success of the product is that athletes have complete confidence in its performance.”