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Swimsuit Design Uses Supercomputing 253

Roland Piquepaille writes "These days, most competitive swimmers wear some type of body suit to reduce high skin-friction drag from water. And makers of swimwear are already busy working on new models for the Olympics 2008. According to Textile & Apparel, Speedo is even using a supercomputer to refine its designs. Its engineers run Fluent Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) program on an SGI Altix system."
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Swimsuit Design Uses Supercomputing

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  • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @09:39PM (#15688556) Homepage
    Two words I never wanted to see in the same paragraph.
  • Nice to see (Score:5, Funny)

    by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @09:40PM (#15688559)
    It's nice to see SGI working on winning gold medals in Swimming. They just need to find out how to get rid of the meat bag causing all that drag on their wonderfully designed swimsuits.
    • Re:Nice to see (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 09, 2006 @09:57PM (#15688605)
      You laugh, but when I made it to the olympic time trials for swimming in '04, I found out that many swimmers do in fact adjust their member to minimize drag.

      Posting anonymously to avoid people realizing that my main account is associated with an actual *shudder* athlete. :)
      • I'm a meatbag, you insensitive clod.
      • by akorvemaker ( 617072 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @11:00PM (#15688791) Homepage
        At what point does "Informative" become "Too Much Information"?
      • So just like cameras, well-endowed swimmers have it the other way around. All the people that keep spammers in business have just found a new career opportunity!
      • Re:Nice to see (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JasonBee ( 622390 )
        Let's not get into superstition and rituals when preparing for race day...it probably gets even weirder.

        Athletes do a great deal of weird things to aid in performance improvement...tucking in things here and there isn't really that odd, nor should it be shocking. It either makes one faster or not. That would be the point of training and technical preparations.

        >Posting anonymously to avoid people realizing that my main account is associated with an actual *shudder* athlete. :)

        I was a world level track and
        • Re:Nice to see (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 10, 2006 @12:56AM (#15689098)
          I know that I should not be ashamed of my efforts (and I say efforts for a reason) here, but at the same time, I do know that there is a lot of hatred towards any "jock type" figure here on Slashdot. I have seen discussions about athletics turn into a simple flame war about how "jocks" are stupid and that any type of sport is a waste of time.

          It's rather ironic, if you think about it. I like to consider Slashdot a rather liberal and progressive thinking body, but sometimes the opposite is true. It seems that, as a whole, Slashdot still believes in the mesomorph/ectomorph "theory" - as if muscles and intelligence/work ethic are mutually exclusive. Some members seem to ignore the fact that being an athlete makes life harder, not easier. It isn't as if being an athlete suddenly makes you stupid, or suddenly makes you popular, or suddenly lets you get through life with a free pass.

          I swim six days a week. Four of those days are two-a-days. That means I end up swimming six hours instead of only three. That does not include out-of-practice training, such as jogging and extra gym work. While most people are enjoying winter break, I (and many other student athletes) endure winter training. Instead of four two-a-days, we do six a week. Instead of going off to party during spring break, we go to a Mexican plateau for high altitude training. Instead of slacking off during the summer, I swim even more than during college practices. During the entire year, I have a one week break from swimming at the end of summer. Since you were a cross country runner, I am sure you had a similar training regimen.

          And what is all this for? Nothing, really. When I turn 23 and graduate from college, I'll probably never swim at a meet again. I didn't need it for college - I already had an academic scholarship. I certainly didn't do it to be "popular" - you don't have time to be. I have a passion, and that is swimming. When I made the cuts for two events at the the Olympic time trials, I was probably the happiest 19 year old on Earth. I knew I had no chance of actually making the Olympic team, mind you - but just being there, and swimming in the same pool as some of the greatest athletes alive will be a picture in my mind for the rest of my life. Three months ago, I injured my shoulder. The chances of me making the Olympic team in '08, or swimming after college, are all but gone, as I won't be able to train effectively for another 6-9 months as I recover from surgery. But I still go to practice each and every day, even if it's just to kick with fins for three hours. I just wish some people here could respect a passion for something other than what the fastast processor is, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. :)
      • Did you shave also? I know a guy who shaves his entire body to reduce drag. It's kind of creepy, and I doubt it really works.
    • Hence the aptly named "codpiece".
  • by redphive ( 175243 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @09:42PM (#15688563) Homepage
    Does this mean Computer magazines are going to start having yearly swimsuit editions? This could be a good and a bad thing.
  • by alshithead ( 981606 ) * on Sunday July 09, 2006 @09:42PM (#15688565)
    "Meanwhile, the CFD analysis has already indicated that there is a more separated flow, where the water actually leaves the surface of the swimmer, for females than males, so the designs for male and female suits should be different."

    Translation: Boobs and hips create additional drag. Make the suits tighter in the chest and hips for women.
  • Bah (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What they need to do is use this computing power to find a way to make competitive swimsuits actually look good on women, instead of hiding all of the good stuff.
  • by lanced ( 795958 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @10:00PM (#15688614)
    That reminds me of an old limerick. Sing along if you know it...

    What's that in your Speedo?

    But in this case, it should be...
    or Gates,
    Who designed your Speedo?

    Maybe it doesn't rhyme, but now all of you are thinking of Bill Gates in a thong. Ha.
  • Womens... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ResQuad ( 243184 ) * <<moc.ketelosnok> <ta> <todhsals>> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @10:07PM (#15688630) Homepage
    Obviously in womens olypic competition they should ban swimsuits all together. Not only would that level the playing field... viewership would SKY ROCKET!!! 10x at least!
    • Until the East German contingent shows up!
      • Don't you just love the people who have never seen female swimmers ? :p

        #1 dude, you are 16 years too late
        #2 dude, you have obviously never seen a prof. female swimmer naked, they all look like east germany's female athlethes used to.

        as to "grandparent" posting, see #2. forget it dude, no man wants to see women more muscular and wider than he by himself is.
    • Re:Womens... (Score:2, Informative)

      by badspyro ( 920162 )

      I'm afraid something similar to that almost happened.

      in the moscow olympics, they almost decided to let the swimmers swim without a costume, as that was the way the designers were going.

      before this happened though, most swim suits were made out of an extra fine silk, that when wet, made bettter viewing than that of a wet t-shirt. They combated that by brightly coulouring the suits and putting on fancy designs.

      its amazing what you learn in textiles and from reading Swimsuit design books...

  • hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by dpaton.net ( 199423 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @10:11PM (#15688641) Homepage Journal
    There's a joke in here somewhere....mumble mumble Cindy Crawford mumble mumble Beowolf cluster mumble mumble Sports Illustrated mumble mumble.

    I'm going to karma hell. I don't mind.
  • by Dorsai65 ( 804760 ) <dkmerriman@g m a i l . c om> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @10:12PM (#15688642) Homepage Journal
    Okay, I can see needing a supercomputer for designing Pam Anderson's bra, but not for swimsuits...
  • by Servo ( 9177 ) <dstringf@NOsPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @10:14PM (#15688648) Journal
    Am I the only one that read that as `Swimsuit Competition uses Supercomputer`?
  • Ask God (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does Turbulence [wikipedia.org] come into play? And does it bring all it's mythical and apocraphal baggage with it?

    "According to an apocryphal story, Werner Heisenberg was asked what he would ask God, given the opportunity. His reply was: "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." A similar witticism has been attributed to Horace Lamb (who had published a noted text book on Hydrodynamics)--his choice being quantum mecha

  • by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @10:20PM (#15688664) Homepage
    The Olympics should be about being the best athlete - not who can squeeze out a few fractions of a second because they have better/more expensive swimware. I don't mind using technology for training and conditioning, but in the field (or in this case, the pool) the equipment one has shouldn't be the deciding factor.
    • Maybe the olympic committee should assign swimwear that everyone has to wear. That way you even teh playing field. Surely they could afford some swimwear with all that cash they are raking in.
    • I recall bare foot africans winning long distance running... food for thought before blaming your swimmers when being beaten in a race. The fractions of time that could potetially be saved here... aren't exactly going to hold the number 1 person in the world back imho. What do you want everyone to swim naked? ME TOO!!!! :D Except the mens of course... However having said that, some people will have advantages... and disadvantages (larger then normal feet, big breasts, whatever)... what you really want is an
      • >>>
        What do you want everyone to swim naked? ME TOO!!!!

        It might get interesting when the nude male swimmers get distracted by the nude female swimmers on the poolside and suddenly encounter a lot of hydrodynamic resistance...
    • Maybe the Ancient Greeks were on to something with the whole participate-in-the-nude thing.

    • The Olympics should be about being the best athlete

      Actually no! The olympics should be about having fun. That's why it's called the Olympic games. But that was a long time ago, these days it's a race of sponsors, tv-rights, doping and winning the gold medal. The old idea of free amateurs competing together as a symbolic gesture of peace between nations somehow got forgotten somewhere.

      • .. and before TV rights and corporate sponsorships, it was all about length comparisons for racial (Berlin 1936), ideological (Moscow '80, LA '84), and jingoistic reasons.

        I suppose the last time it was a competition for free-willing amateurs was the only other time the Olympics was played in a non-leap year, 1900. That is also the last time my country won a medal for athletics, so perhaps, it wasn't as non-jingoistic as I made it out to be.

    • Hmm, the "equipment" is a factor in many, many events.
      • Are you going to standardize all the skates for the speed skaters? Forget custom fitting then?
      • Ditto figure skaters.
      • How about skis on the downhill, standardizing there wouldn't be popular.
      • Snowboarders would revolt at the idea of boarding on the same stuff.
      • Bobsledders? Luge?
      • Going to make everyone run/jump in the same shoes?
      • Vault with the same poles, regardless of weight/height?

      These are just a few things off the top of my head. Being an athele

    • Or worse... the gold medal is going to the country with the *money* that can afford the technology to design a better swimsuit.
  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @10:24PM (#15688678) Journal
    on an SGI Altix high-performance computing system offered by Silicone Technology.
    Silicon Graphics Inc's machines being offered by Silicone Technology?

    Is there actually a "Silicone Technology" company?
    Or did someone screw up their reporting?
  • I thought sports were about athletics, not equipment. How about everyone wears the same model swimsuit to even the playing field? Or is that too naive of me?

  • truly pathetic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by namekuseijin ( 604504 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @10:28PM (#15688694)
    since athletes can't go further into record breaking all by themselves, let's start artificial methods of obtaining a few more milliseconds...

    when are we going to see genetically engineered super athletes?
  • girlsss!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Filtrid ( 984274 )
    Is it only me, that "SuperComputer Calculated Swimsuits " turns me on ?
  • I thought it rather appropriate that SGI computers were used for designing something that is so often underwater...
  • SGI is still able to make the news for something other than being on the verge of final death.
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) * on Sunday July 09, 2006 @11:11PM (#15688817) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if for some sports, where equipment has never been the major thing, all this money spent on equipment is overrated. For example, Amercian football is significantly about the equipment, and if you can't afford good equipment you don't play professionally, but the other football is not so much about the equipment, and everyone has an good chance of competing, even if they are not rich.

    For example, it was reputed that the shark skin suits of the past couple olympics were the reasons for new world records, though I have not seem any anylsis that showed the more records were set. Putting the suits on olympics swimmers, often with compensation, seems more a marketing thing than a performance thing. All attire options are about the same, so why not choose the option that will bring in a little cash. It is good investment for the company as consumers will see the product, percieve value, and be more willing to pay the offered price.

    None of which proves the suit is a useful product. In fact when reading about the suits, the issue seems more about insuring the suit is not counterproductive rather than significantly improving on bare skin. In the past they have said things "like four percent impovement over the past model", and then cited all the deficiencies of the past model.

    • Technology in certain instances is overrated, but in most cases it's not. Golf is a prime example where technology can result in huge improvements in performance, which is also why they have banned certain clubs and balls. Baseball is the same way, with special bats and balls that can increase hitting distance. Sure, they don't change how accurate your swing and timing are (except for increasing bat acceleration due to less mass), but they can definitely change the outcome of a game.

      As for sports that de
  • Swimmer's Experience (Score:3, Informative)

    by apharmdq ( 219181 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:31AM (#15689389)
    I'm a swimmer myself, and when I was younger I trained with the ordinary, plain-vanilla speedos. Lately, our coach has been encouraging the use of the more high-tech suit designs for competitions, so I got ahold of one of those "fastskin" suits that Speedo sells. Surprisingly enough, you can actually feel the difference. (And it shaved a second or two off my times as well.)

    So if Speedo is going through such great lengths to improve their suits, I wouldn't be surprised. I'm just impressed that a suit design can make such a big difference.

    Still, I'm a traditionalist. I don't need no newfangled swimsuits to win a competition! Skinnydipping forever!
  • My Specialized bike was engineered on a Sun computer. All the Specialized bikes I've owned have had a little sticker declaring it. I don't know if that qualifies as "super-computing" but the use of tech in sporting isn't new.
  • They use commercial CFD to model the flow around the swimmer [hoise.com]. Been years now. This story? Ooooh. Now they're running exactly the same thing on a faster box.
  • Imagine how gay you can look in a COMPUTER ENGINEERED Speedo!!

    (Yes, I'm American, and yes, I was on swim team).

  • by Dagmar d'Surreal ( 5939 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @06:13AM (#15689897) Journal
    GazetteNET has managed to get their hands on a leaked picture of the new recommended swimming helmet designed by the supercomputing software. Here's the photo. Looks pretty slick to me. :)

    http://www.gazettenet.com/business/02242003/14.jpg [gazettenet.com]

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?