The science of engineering materials and the development of materials science during human history have strongly evolved over the past two centuries. Other new technological fields such as particle physics, computer science, nanoscience also flourished, all leading to innovations that impacted sport. Polymers and metal alloys such as carbon fibres are exemplars of materials now widely used in various disciplines. In 2008, polyurethane made its first appearance in swimming with the use of a new swimsuit generation. The result was a sudden improvement of performances, allowing athletes to go beyond physiological limits that have been nearly reached5 G. Berthelot et al., PLoS ONE 3 (2) (2008) 10.1371/journal.pone.0001552.. This study aimed to quantify the gain provided by the three generations of swimsuits introduced in 1999, 2008, 2009 and to estimate the upcoming performance drop in 2010. Using a recently published methodology we analyzed the single best result each year for the world's top ten swimmers from 1990 to 2009 in order to assess the sudden progression trends and quantify the total performance gain.
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Materials Today (2010) 13(11), 46-51