When Australian Cathy Freeman donned a full-body suit for the 2000 Olympics, it seemed counterintuitive, Lukas said. "She was wearing more clothing, but it was so aerodynamic," he said.
Plus, he pointed out, there's a qualitative advantage as well: "If you look good you play good. How much an athlete is feeling cool, edgy, modern -- how much better does that make the athlete perform?"
However the tracksuit played a role, Freeman won the 400 meters that year.
In London, athletes from USA, Russia, Germany, and China will be wearing the Nike ProTurboSpeed. Nike used wind tunnel data to place specific surface patterns on key areas of the suit to offer "the greatest aerodynamic drag reduction of any NIKE uniform to date."
"We are here to enhance the athlete's performance," said Martin Lotti, Nike's Olympics creative director. "And at the end of the day, we give them this tiny advantage to win, but the heavy work comes from the athlete...They are always looking for a competitive advantage and we gave them just that in a suit that is faster than skin. How much faster is astonishing. It's not just the difference between first and second, but the difference in even making the podium."