Anti-Microbial Athletic Suit Readied for Rio Olympics

A new high-tech unisuit for Olympic rowers could protect against bacteria lurking in the water.

Rowers pretty much need a second skin to compete at the Olympic level. Their suits must be strong, comfortable, and lightweight. And, in Rio's questionable water, protect the wearer from dangerous bacteria.

Textile experts from Philadelphia University unveiled new seamless unisuits for Olympic rowers that are made with a special anti-microbial finish on the material, reports Gizmag.

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The unisuit was developed by performance apparel expert Mark Sunderland and textile engineer Robert J. Reichlin as part of a rowing apparel collection for the Olympics that also includes sports bras and tights. Each suit is constructed seamlessly in partnership with the apparel company Boathouse Sports from lightweight, tightly-woven material, according to Philadelphia University.

Boathouse, the U.S. rowing team's official apparel provider, can knit a custom unisuit in minutes on a circular electronic machine, Philly.com reported. Philadelphia-born rower Chierika Ukogu, who will represent Nigeria in the Olympics, will be wearing one. The seat in the suit has a second layer, making it more comfortable to go without annoying underwear that could inhibit movement. The water-repellant suit has strategically-place stretch panels and that vital anti-microbial finish.

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The suit has its limits for protecting rowers, though. As multiple bloggers have already pointed out, rowers' hands and faces will still be exposed to spray. Sunderland has cautioned about over-estimating the suit's capabilities. "The suit is not a medical device," he told Philly.com.

RELATED: Filthy Rio Water a Threat at 2016 Olympics

The water situation in Rio de Janeiro sounds downright threatening now. Guanabara Bay, the venue for windsurfing and sailing, was dangerously polluted with debris, raw sewage, bacteria, a year ago. During practice yesterday, sailing crews found that an oil slick there turned their boats brown.

At test events on Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, where Olympic rowing will take place, athletes were so worried about the water quality that they rinsed with antibacterial mouthwash and cleaned their water bottles with bleach, RT.com reported. Brazilian scientists also just discovered a drug-resistant "super-bacteria" growing off Rio de Janeiro's beaches, according to the Daily Beast.

Between fears about dangerous water and the spread of Zika, Olympic athletes are going to be competing on a bunch of different levels this summer. Having an incredibly strong immune system could be the biggest edge.

style="text-align: left;"> Take a closer look at the heart-pumping summer and winter sports that international associations and devoted athletes hope will gain official status in the future. Credit: Thinkstock

style="text-align: left;"> The IOC rejected competitive indoor rock climbing from the 2020 Olympics back in 2013, but proponents didn't lose hope. The sport got a second shot after the IOC introduced a policy that lets host cities suggest new sports and events. Climbing fits the bill for Tokyo with its focus on youth and equal opportunities for men and women. The committee decides in August 2016. Credit: Thinkstock

style="text-align: left;"> If indoor sports climbing does make the cut for Tokyo, competitive ice climbing could have a better chance at becoming an official Olympic sport. In 2014, a delegation from the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation met with IOC officials to discuss adding ice climbing for 2022. Now that the rules have changed, host city Beijing will have a say about it. Previously ice climbing was featured as an exhibition at the Sochi Olympics, and more recently was a sport at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games. Credit: International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation

style="text-align: left;"> No mere polar plunge, ice swimming involves going for a mile in 41-degree-Fahrenheit water wearing no more than a cap, swimsuit, and goggles, according to the International Ice Swimming Association's rules. The sport has gained more recognition in the years since the association first formed in 2009, and supporters keep hoping it will be added to the Winter Games. One advantage ice swimming has over other winter sports: no snow required. Credit: International Ice Swimming Association

style="text-align: left;"> Like climbing, surfing is moving closer to becoming an official Olympic sport. It's part of the same package for Tokyo that the IOC will consider when members meet in Rio. Advancements in artificial wave technology could help make the case for surfing, allowing officials to control what would otherwise be a potentially dangerous competition, although surfers are divided in how they view the possibility. Credit: Kelly Slater Wave Co, Instagram

style="text-align: left;"> Although the martial arts judo and taekwondo are currently Olympic sports, karate has yet to gain official status. Pioneered in an area of Japan that is now Okinawa, karate has been rejected by the IOC three times in the past. Part of the challenge is that there are numerous styles, which makes picking just one difficult and controversial. The World Karate Federation is in charge of the bid, and only allows minimal contact. Karate will be up for a new IOC vote in summer 2016. Credit: Thinkstock

style="text-align: left;"> Longtime an X Games staple, competitive skateboarding now has a good chance at joining the Olympics. One of the sports under consideration for Tokyo 2020, skateboarding was part of the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in 2014. The current bid prompted a backlash, though. An online petition against inclusion saying that skateboarding isn't a "sport" and shouldn't be exploited by the Olympics gained more than 6,700 signatures. Despite this, the bid has received support from international skateboarding groups and a number of pros. Credit: Thinkstock