15 hottest products of 2008: Speedo LZR

Julie Tilsner

You might wonder how much work can go into half a yard of fabric. The answer is, quite a lot, especially if you're the maker of swimwear for champions.

Speedo spent three years and untold millions researching and designing asuper swimsuit. A suit that only elite, Olympian swimmers would wear. It tested 100 different fabrics and suit designs, and conducted body scans of probably every top-level swimmer in the world (more than 400, the company claims) to come up with the Speedo LZR. The ultimate suit for hydro-propulsion.

The LZR (pronounced laser) is nothing if not a collaborative feat of engineering. Co-designed by experts at NASA and ANSYS, a fluid dynamics software company, the specially-engineered fabric is ultrasonically-welded to appear seamless, and uses paneling that helps buoyancy while decreasing drag. The suit can reportedly reduce a swimmer's time by 1.9% to 2.2%, amazing numbers when records are made and broken by hundredths of a second.

So much innovation packed into one paper-light swimsuit. The LZR even made Time Magazine's Best Inventions of the Year.

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