Researchers from the University of Nottingham's School of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, in England's East Midlands, have detailed how they helped develop what has been hailed as the fastest swimsuit in the world.

Speedo's new LZR Racer swimsuit was made using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) that scanned four hundred athletes' bodies to pin-point areas of high and low friction when they swim, the researchers say.

With that information designers were able to position a highly flexible fabric called LZR Pulse that is ultrasonically welded to the right places of the suit.

Dr Herve Morvan, lecturer in fluid mechanics, said: "CFD enabled us to use the compressive property of the suit to shape the body as ideally as possible, taking into account the physiological and bio-mechanical requirements of the athlete."

Speedo deemed it the "world's fastest" suit last month after independent tests found it has 10% less passive drag - present when the swimmer is gliding through the water after a dive or turn, than Speedo's 2004 Fastskin FSII and 5% less passive drag than the Fastskin FS-PRO launched in 2007.

The LZR Racer will debut in March 2008 and will be worn by top swimmers Michael Phelps, of the US, and Libby Lenton, of Australia, at the Beijing Olympics in August.

A retail version priced from US$290 will be available this May.

By Monica Dobie.