The Chemistry of Technical Swimming Suits


Swim suits have changed drastically throughout the years. They used to be something you just wore in order to cover up but now, for competitive swimmers, they help to create less drag and are created very differently. Technical suits offer some sort of compression. This gives swimmers advantages including; increased circulation, assistance with recovery, and alignment. They also support the shape of the body to decrease drag. Tech suits also use specific stitching. They use flat stitches to allow for the suit to be closer to the body. Ultrasonic and heat bonded seams make them almost disappear. I chose this topic because I find the way they create technical suits interesting. Being a competitive swimmer makes it more interesting because I think it’s good to know what it is about your suit that helps create less drag. Technical suits have affected my life in many ways. I bought for first tech suit at regionals, and since then it has helped me to take time off while competing. Although tech suits only help you take off less the half a second, they still help when you’re trying to get a best time. Swimsuits have affected my life since I was 8 years old and will keep affecting my life for a longtime.

Composition of ...

All components...

        • They cause less drag creating a quick movement in water.
        • Are made of polyamide, elastane, and silver.
        • Has a bi-elastic woven hydrophobic structure
        • They compress the muscles thus reducing fatigue.

Main components..

        • Tech suits are mostly combined of polyamide, also known as nylon 6-6, elastane, and silver. (-CO-NH-, Ag)

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Polyamide (Nylon 6-6)

    • HOW... Nylon is a two-step process, first it creates the strong polymers in the fabric, then binds them together to create a durable fiber. The first thing the manufacturer must do is combine two sets of molecules. One set has an acid group on each end, while the other has an amine group. When these two substances combine it creates thick crystallized “nylon salts”.
    • WHAT... Nylon makes up 65% of the Tech suits lining and 58% of the outer layer of suit. The Nylon is covered with 99.9% of silver layer to create a more hydrophobic structure.
    • WHEN... During the process of making Technical suits nylon comes in during most of the processes. The nylon makes up most parts of the suit. When first starting with the lining you must have your 65% of nylon 6-6. Also while creating the outer layer of suit you will need the 58% of nylon 6-6 as well as the pure silver layer in order to weave together a hydrophobic structure.
    • WHY... Nylon is an important part of Tech suits because even though it is a lightweight material it is still one of the strongest manufactured fiber, as well as it creates a smooth fit. Nylon also absorbs little water and dries very quickly.
    • WHERE... Most nylon is produced in China, but the 2nd largest producer is the U.S.

Silver (Ag)

    • HOW... In order to create a pure silver layer with a bi-elastic woven hydrophobic structure you need to use hydrophobic fibers to help create the barrier for moisture. Although silver is a good moisture and corrosion stopper, you could not create a suit out of all silver. So in order to make the suit cost effective and lightweight they add to the pure silver a bi-elastic woven hydrophobic structure.
    • WHAT... The Tech suits have a pure silver layer with a bi-elastic woven hydrophobic structure. This helps the tech suits to be stronger and withstand more moisture.
    • WHEN... SIlver comes in during the process of creating tech suits toward the end. The silver is used in the outer layer of the suit. You must have nylon covered with the pure silver layer to create the best possible outcome of the suit.
    • WHY... Tech suits are made from a pure silver woven layer because silver is considered strong, corrosion-resistant, and unaffected by moisture.
    • WHERE... Well silver is mined in approximately 56 countries. Nevada produces over one third of the United State’s silver. Other significant places that produce silver are; Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Canada.

Chemistry's Role

2 main components are made by...

    • One main component is silver. Silver is naturally occurring and is mined in many countries. Silver is found in ores and mined by open pit or underground methods. A typical ore may contain .085 % silver and after flotation separation the concentration would contain 1.7% silver. Metallic silver can be dissolved from gold alloys of less than 30 percent gold by boiling with 30-percent-strength nitric acid in a process referred to as parting. Boiling with concentrated sulfuric acid to separate silver and gold is called affination. Both these processes are used on a commercial scale for separating silver and gold. .
    • The second main component is polyamide or nylon. Nylon is not naturally occurring therefore it is synthetic and created in a lab. Nylon factories combine the chemicals that produce nylon, heating them first to remove the water. The small molecules from each chemical combine during this heating to form very large molecules in a process called polymerization.The nylon then comes out of this heating machine in a flat ribbon. As this ribbon cools, it hardens. Then it is cut into pieces, which are then sent to factories where they are melted.

Product Man-Made...

My product is man-made. There is a step by step process involved in creating swimsuits.

      1. Spools of cotton and synthetic thread are loaded onto knitting machines that weave the threads into rolls of fabric. The rolls are fed into large tanks fitted with agitators. Pre-measured amounts of bleach and color-dyes are released into the tanks. After the fabric has been cleaned and dyed to the desired color, it is then placed into drying machines. The fabric is re-rolled and stored until it is needed.
      2. Workers bring the bolts of fabric to spreading and measuring tables. The bolts are attached to one end of the table and the fabric is drawn across the table and wrapped around an empty bolt on the other side. The worker turns the empty bolt to take up the slack until the fabric is pulled taut across the table. The worker enters length measurements into an encoder. The encoder then relays the information to electronic blades that cut the fabric.
      3. After the entire bolt of fabric has been cut into lengths, the worker stacks them in heights up to 6 in. He or she then takes the stacks to the piece-cutting machine. Here, another worker operates the computerized machinery that cuts the swimsuit pieces from the lengths of fabric. In smaller factories, pattern-marking may be done by hand before the fabric is cut. In larger companies, the pattern dimensions are fed into a computer that relays the information to the cutting machinery.
      4. Each piece is stitched to another at separate sewing stations. Depending on the size of the factory, the sewing is done by individual seamstresses working at industrial sewing machines, or by computerized stitching machines operated by workers. For a bikini, the bra cup is placed between the lining and the front bra panels and the three pieces are stitched together. A side panel is then stitched to each of the front panels.
      5. The completed garments are pressed and labels are stitched onto the inside. The swimsuits are packaged in plastic bags and loaded into cartons for shipment to retail outlets.

Background Research

    • Tech suits can last up to 11 races. Taking care of them is essential to getting a longer life out of your suit. As soon as possible after use, make sure to rise in a sink of cold water. This will help get the chlorine out as soon as possible.
    • Technical suits can range in price anywhere between $120 to more than $500 for women and for men’s jammers the price can be between $100 to $300.
    • Tech suits are wore tightly in order to tie all the advantages together- compression, drag lessness, seamlessness, alignment, body shape, and water resistant.
    • Pool chemicals and oil residue can be particularly damaging to tech suits containing Lycra spandex.
  • Do not pull hard on fabric, it is best to put the suit on the body in stages.



Information on what technical suits are and how they work.

Talks about the compression tech suits create.

Also includes how the stitching helps with less drag.

Information on what technical suits consist of and how they work.

Explains how to keep your technical suits in better shape for longer.

Information on what technical suits can do for swimmers and how they work.

Show the effects of tech suits and how they work to your advantage.

Explains chemicals are used in the process of making technical suits.

Explains the price ranges for different types of suits.

Information on what materials make up technical suits.

Explanation of what chemical reactions are needed.

What reactions happen in the body.

Main chemicals and components of nylon.

How nylon is made.

Explains the main chemicals and components of nylon.

What nylon is, when does it come in during the process, and why it is important.

Main chemical and components of silver.

What silver is.

When silver comes in during the process.

Main chemicals of silver.

How silver is made.

Why it is made.

Explains the process of making silver.

Informations on how silver occurs.

Information on how nylon is produced.

Explains what happens in the lab.

Shows how technical suits are made.

Explains the process that must happen in order for the technical suits to work properly.

About the Author

Alexys Lyle is a junior at Billings Senior High and has been a part of the YMCA swim team since she was 8 years old. She joined her high school varsity swim team at the start of her freshman year and has been apart of it ever since. She also has been apart of the state team since her freshman year. Other than swimming Alexys also participates in dance, and Girl Scouts. With Girl Scouts she has done a lot of community service along with travel to Ireland in the summer of 2014. One of her most proud moments was getting chosen to be an ambassador of the U.S and travel to Italy, Sicily and Greece with a group called People to People. Traveling has taught her a lot about herself and the world around her. Alexys loves learning about science and hopes to learn more as she travels the world someday.