Imagine a head-to-toe Olympic uniform that defies the wind. Now imagine the world’s greatest track athletes competing at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Nike has combined the two – creating the Swift Suit, an innovative, state of the art piece of sporting apparel.

The Swift Suit maximises sprinting performance, leveraging such factors as temperature, wind speed, altitude and track surface.

Launched in June 2000 at the Prefontaine Classic in the USA, the suit will be available to athletes from a number of countries including Australia, to wear at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

For more than two years, Senior Designer Eddy Harber and Innovation Director Rick MacDonald of Nike’s RPM (Research Product Materials) group have worked to build a new technology platform that would maximise a runner’s performance during every phase of competition. From that platform, named Project Swift, the Swift Suit was developed.

‘We’ve been working with athletes like Marion Jones, Cathy Freeman and Maurice Greene for almost two years,’ said Eddy Harber. ‘The athletes have been very excited about the suit and we’re all certain it will make a difference in their preparation and performance heading into Sydney.’

Cathy Freeman, who has road-tested the Swift Suit, has given it the thumbs up. ‘You feel like you’re slicing through the air,’ she said.

Indeed, in the design of the suit, several factors were taken into consideration to make the suit as streamlined, sleek and lightweight as possible:

External factors such as temperature, wind speed, altitude and track surface.
Muscle temperature – maintaining warm muscles through to the finish line is a key to maximum performance, and the suit makes it possible to manage temperature in two ways. First, by use of colour – using darker colours on certain zones of the body to absorb radiant heat from the sun. Second, by use of different textiles – making the fabrics in less critical power areas as light and breathable as possible, while using fabrics that help maintain higher muscle temperatures where higher power is necessary.
Aerodynamics – as with any moving object, a sprinter’s body creates a significant amount of drag when running. Through windtunnel testing of different fabrics and design executions, textured fabrics were strategically placed on the suit to reduce drag.
Seams – the Nike team both moved seams to the back of the suit, and cut them in the direction of the wind flow to further reduce drag.
Currently the Swift Suit is not available to the public, but it will be made available to every sprinter on the Australian Olympic Team and to the other countries for which Nike has designed Track and Field uniforms.

For further information contact Sophie Blue (02 9818 0949, 0416 006 821), Ty Jernstedt (02 9818 0957), Donna Tout (02 9818 0913) or Claire Sharpe (02 9818 0948, 0412 064 384) at Professional Public Relations.

Source: Australian Olympic Committee