Invention powers up elite swimmers

Sam James, a 23-year old industrial design student from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has designed the “corsuit” – a training tool which could give swimmers the same advantages as the high performance body suits which are no longer allowed in international competitions.

Mr James’ invention is on display at the State Library of Queensland for the next month as part of a Design Institute of Australia showcase, and is being entered in the James Dyson Award competition, which is the student category of the prestigious Australian International Design Awards.

In January 2010, controversial high performance body suits were banned from swimming competitions after an unprecedented number of world records were broken.

“Basically the body suits were really tight,” Mr James, himself a competitive national swimmer, said. “A major benefit was that they helped core stability through the middle of your body.

“What that would do was make a better connection between your arms and legs. So without any extra effort, your arms and legs were more powerful.

“Also they helped your posture. They were built specifically to help swimmers keep a straight spine, which is the posture you want when swimming. The body suits also helped with proprioception, or awareness of what your body is doing.”

If used in training sessions, Mr James’ corsuit invention may help swimmers to develop all of these advantages naturally.

“The device can be worn on your front or back – either running down your spine or sternum, and is attached with a belt-like strap,” Mr James said.

“When worn on the back, the corsuit aids a swimmer’s posture, by helping them to hold a straight spine.

“If worn on the front of the body, running down the sternum, the corsuit can be adjusted to create resistance, pushing the swimmer out of a straight position. The swimmer uses his or her muscles to push back on the device, repositioning their spine into the correct position. The idea is for the swimmer to build their core strength, so they can maintain good swimming posture using their own muscle power.”

Mr James has used the corsuit in his own swimming training. He is due to graduate in mid-2011.

Media contact: Michaela Ryan, QUT media officer, 07 3138 4494 or [email protected]

*Excellent high resolution photos of the corsuit being used in the pool by Mr James are available for media use.