We focus here on the impact of material science in swimming by measuring the impact of the three successive generations of swimsuits on human performance and estimate the upcoming performance drop consecutive to the decision of the FINA to suspend their use. We investigate the recent evolutions of the best performers over the 1990 — 2009 period and demonstrate that three bursts of performances occurred in 2000, 2008 and 2009. The overall observed gains of these bursts exceed 2.0% for both sexes. The drop in performance that may result from this rule change may return to similar levels as seen in 1999.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(10)70203-0