Carbon fibre is made up of very thin strands of carbon – even thinner than human hair – which can be twisted together like yarn, and then woven into cloth. It’s five times as strong as steel and twice as stiff, yet weighs about two-thirds less.
Now, for the first time, carbon fibre has been applied to the making of competition swimsuits. In collaboration with Kinetech Labs, Arena has developed a unique, top performing and powerful fabric by weaving elastomer yarns across a special carbon grid. The inherent strength and stiffness of the carbon threads serve as a protective web that regulates stretching by stiffening the fabric once a critical stress level is reached, thus preventing uneven stress damage. The implications of this property for the support and control of the human body in the high performance world of competitive swimming are nothing short of thrilling, and in the sport’s regulatory environment that leaves little room for movement, it would not be out of place to call it revolutionary.
No other element is more essential to life than carbon. In the human body it ranks second only to oxygen, making up nearly one-fifth by mass. It is also one of the most abundant in the universe, and is found in the sun, stars, comets, and atmospheres of most planets.
In its organic form, carbon is an essential element in the makeup of a huge range of compounds, from DNA to tree trunks, and from the lens of the eye to the venom of a spider.
Thanks to its ability to bond to itself and most other nonmetallic elements, it is the most diverse of all substances known to man. It is this capability that has earned carbon the claim to be the building block of life.
Intelligent Compression: Stiff, strong carbon fibres combined with high-stretch elastomer yarns in a woven construction create a ‘lock-out’ effect. These fibres lock down when a critical stretch level is reached, much like a car’s seat belt is locked when the vehicle experiences a high impact. With a swimsuit, the lock down of the carbon fibres maximizes compression on over-extended zones, increasing support and control where it’s needed and when it’s needed. At the same time, the stretch fabric remains comfortable without compromising the swimmer’s mobility.
Power Return: Strategic placement of elastic bonding tape on the inside of the legs and the gluteal muscles delivers added power through a “spring back” action on each dive, kick, and turn. The tape stretches as you push off, helping to give a better glide as you start each lap, preserving its optimal fit and freedom of movement throughout. The tapes even help your pre-race stretching and warm-up, so that you can preserve your energy for when you most need it – in the race.
Improved Surface Integrity: The Carbon-Pro’s high-performance woven fabric (190g/sqm) reinforced with carbon fibre delivers the ultimate strength-to-weight ratio for combined speed and power. The superior strength of this fabric translates into a stronger suit, with less chance of tearing or damage that can result from extreme stretching while putting the suit on. Preservation of the integrity of the swimsuit’s surface in turn maximizes drag reduction and optimizes water repellency.
Competition swimsuits have traditionally compromised between compression (to achieve optimum muscle power) and optimum fit and comfort (for freedom of movement). A tight-fitting garment
provides greater muscle compression but loses freedom of movement, with the converse being true for a loose-fitting garment. Now, with the Arena Carbon-Pro, this kind of compromise is a thing of the past. The Carbon-Pro offers both maximum muscle compression AND total freedom of movement, thanks to the unique properties of its carbon-based fabric.
Not only that, the benefits kick in from the moment you pull on the suit, and last until you touch the wall at the end of your race.
Before the Race Mechanical resistance and durability – able to withstand more handling and stretch with less chance of tearing or surface damage when putting it on
On the Blocks Mechanical resistance and durability – endures stretch while remaining comfortable against the skin Intelligent compression – maximum support and control during the crouch and dive
In the Water Intelligent Compression – carbon thread ‘locks down’ on over-extended zones, increasing support and control where and when it’s needed Power return – strategic placement and construction of elasticized bonding tape delivers added power on kicks and turns.
POWERSKIN Carbon Pro, the first racing suit integrating a carbon cage to deliver Intelligent muscle compression, combined with unprecedented fit.
Compression in a competition suit is associated with increased support, efficiency and power, but high compression can have a restricting effect on movement. The swimmer in motion is also a dynamic form with complex requirements for support and compression. How can you get more of the benefits of compression, without its drawbacks? Squeezing the swimmer harder will not help!
To deliver a breakthrough solution to the compression challenge, arena has incorporated carbon fibre into the weave of the POWERSKIN Carbon Pro fabric.
Known for its unique structural and mechanical properties, the carbon fibre locks down when and where a critical stretch level is reached, while retaining the suit’s elasticity. This delivers a ramp-up in compression on those specific overextended zones, increasing support and control where and when they are needed without detracting from the swimmer’s mobility.
After 43 world records were broken at the 2009 World Championships in Rome - more than any previous Championships or Olympics - FINA banned hi-tech, full-body suits as of January 2010. After a decade of dramatic developments in swimsuit technology, the swimming world once again went through a major change.
Thanks to the work done 10 years previously, Arena 's R&D team was able to come up with another range of superior racing wear that complied with the new FINA rules. Using knitted and woven fabrics weighing as little as 125 g/m2, the 2010 Powerskin series included the ST, XP, Revo, Revo Plus, and the X-Glide.
At the top of the range, the X-Glide offered a hydro-repellent surface, optimal compression, minimum surface drag, and low-profile bonded seams.
Starting from such a complete and high-performing range, it’s hard to believe that we could have done any better… but at arena, we are not able to stop and relax, we just want to get better every day.
This is why in 2012 the POWERSKIN range is going to see a new breakthrough innovation, as arena unleashes its biggest and best weapon to date: POWERSKIN Carbon Pro, the first racing suit integrating a carbon cage to deliver Intelligent muscle compression, combined with unprecedented fit.