Article | Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research | The Fastskin Revolution: From Human Fish to Swimming Androids

Title:
The Fastskin Revolution: From Human Fish to Swimming Androids
Author:
Jennifer Craik: RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, Fashion Design, Canberra Institute of Technology, and Cultural Heritage, Australian National University
DOI:
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.11371
Read article:
Full article (pdf)
Year:
2011
Volume:
3
Theme:
Theme: Fashion, Market and Materiality
Pages:
71-82
No. of pages:
12
Publication type:
Article
Published:
2011-04-19


The story of fastskin swimsuits reflects some of the challenges facing the impact of technology in postmodern culture. Introduced in 1999 and ratified for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, fastskin swimsuits were touted as revolutionising competitive swimming. Ten years later, they were banned by the world’s swimming regulatory body FINA (the Fédération Internationale de Natation), with the ban taking effect from January 2010 (Shipley 2009). The reason was the controversy caused by the large number of world records that were broken by competitors wearing polyurethane swimsuits, the next generation of the original fast skin suits. These suits were deemed to be providing an artificial advantage by increasing buoyancy and reducing drag. This had been an issue ever since they were introduced, yet FINA had approved the suits and, thereby, unleashed an unstoppable technological revolution of the sport of competitive swimming. Underlying this was the issue about its implications of the transformation of a sport based on the movement of the human body through water without the aid of artificial devices or apparatus. This article argues that the advent of the fastskin has not only transformed the art of swimming but has created a new image of the swimmer as a virtual android rather than a human fish. In turn, the image of the sport of swimming has been re-mapped as a technical artefact and sci-fi spectacle based on a radically transformed concept of the swimming body as a material object that has implications for the ideal of the fashionable body.

Keywords: Bodysuits; swimming; technology; sportswear; consumer culture; spectacle; fashion

Volume 3, Theme: Theme: Fashion, Market and Materiality, Article 7, 2011

Author:
Jennifer Craik
Title:
The Fastskin Revolution: From Human Fish to Swimming Androids
DOI:
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.11371
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  • Volume 3, Theme:: Theme: Fashion, Market and Materiality, Article 7, 2011

    Author:
    Jennifer Craik
    Title:
    The Fastskin Revolution: From Human Fish to Swimming Androids
    DOI:
    10.3384/cu.2000.1525.11371
    Note: the following are taken directly from CrossRef
    Citations:
  • Jason Harding, Daniel Loc & Kristine Toohey (2016). A social identity analysis of technological innovation in an action sport: judging elite half-pipe snowboarding. European Sport Management Quarterly, 16(2): 214. DOI: 10.1080/16184742.2016.1140796
  • Bryce Dyer (2015). The controversy of sports technology: a systematic review. SpringerPlus, 4(1): . DOI: 10.1186/s40064-015-1331-x
  • George N Kioussis (2017). Can a manager dope? Match analysis in the digital age. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, : 101269021668476. DOI: 10.1177/1012690216684761
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