Competitive suits have come really a long way in the past century. Back then swimsuits might have weighed up to twenty pounds when wet and covered almost everything (except arms and face). One of the first lightweight swimsuits, designed by Jantzen back in early 1910s, was basically a wool sweater cuff.

Unquestionably, materials have changed over the past century, from heavy wool to computer designed ultra-light materials such as those used by Arena. Arena and TYR manufacture a full bodysuit, with nothing except the hands, head, and feet left in the open. Furthermore, world famous producer Speedo manufacturers an ultra-slick performance swimsuit, called the FastSkin.

There has been a lot of controversy over the fast competitive swimsuits. The main problem is that these swimsuits can provide a significant advantage to the professional athlete. And this seems to be against the official rules.

Arena and TYR (as do other producers) claim their high-tech suits provide less drag. Just for an example, the Arena's X-Flat material offers 4.8 percent less drag than the human skin. Furthermore, these suits offer compression as well, allowing the muscles to work.

Adidas Equipment Fullbody Swimsuit

Adidas makes less-exotic swimsuits using lycra fabric and subtler styling. Most of their suits are basic black with some contrast striping in silver and yellow. The Equipment Fullbody Swimsuit is developed to give increased stroke accuracy as well as power and while decreasing drag as well as muscle fatigue. All of this is possible thanks to its compression fabric. The Teflon coated Adidas Fullbody Swimsuit is made in such a way that small alternating ridges of rough and smooth material decrease drag. This suit is quite tight-fitting, and it virtually compresses every muscle of the body when worn.

Arena PowerSkin Swimsuit

Arena's PowerSkin, is manufactured out of a hydrophobic material. Basically, this material repels water. Therefore, the suit stays lighter when compared to a swimsuit which absorbs water. What's more, the PowerSkin is slicker when compared to standard swimsuits based on its woven vs. knitted production process.

Speedo FastSkin Swimsuit

The Speedo FastSkin line of competitive swimsuits has been used in competitions (for example, 2008 Beijing Olympics) by many professional athletes. FINA (for those of you who don't know, FINA is the international governing body of diving, swimming, water polo, open water swimming and synchronized swimming) tested the FastSkin swimsuits and given them their seal of approval. Many experts claim that these performance swimsuits are the fastest in the world. Surely one of the most famous competitive swimsuits, the full bodysuit from Speedo (or FastSkin FS Pro) is on the FINA list of approved swimsuits.

World records are broken by professional swimmers in swimsuits from the turn of the century - the 21st century. But what seems to the problem with these competitive swimsuits? A lot of experts claim that the cost limits their use to wealthy teams and countries. Some of these suits, such as the FastSkin may require custom fitting and are over $250 each. There's a question of the swimsuits adding extra buoyancy. On the other hand, producers claim that the swimsuits don't have this quality.

The real question is: "How far should sophisticated technology go in order to help a professional swimmer?"