By  on December 1, 2011

Ryan Lochte said it makes him feel “superhuman,” while Michael Phelps said it gives him an “extra boost of confidence” as he steps up to the starting blocks to start a race.

So what’s got America’s top Olympic swimmers so stoked? Speedo’s new Fastskin3 Racing System.

On Wednesday, the manufacturer unveiled the system, which consists a cap and goggle in addition to a suit for the first time. Although each piece is designed separately, they work together to allow swimmers a “cohesive, hydrodynamic solution to cut through the water with maximum efficiency.” Among its boasting points is that the Fastskin3 system offers a 16.1 percent reduction in passive drag, an 11 percent improvement in oxygen economy and a 5.2 percent reduction in full body active drag.

For the layman, that means that swimmers wearing the suit at the upcoming Olympic Games in London next summer may just get the edge they need to reach the wall first. Bob Bowman, Phelps’ coach, expects the extra peripheral vision available in the goggles to help the world’s most decorated swimmer keep his head in a neutral position when he “sneaks a peek” at his competitors on his turns.

Perhaps most important is that the Fastskin3 system has been approved by FINA, the international governing body of swimming. Speedo’s last iteration of a racing suit, the LZR Racer, resulted in so many new records being set that it was considered “technological doping” and was later banned by the organization. In the Beijing Olympics in 2008, 94 percent of all swimming races were won in the suit.

Jim Gerson, president of Speedo, said Wednesday that FINA has given the Fastskin3 the green light with the men wearing suits that sit on their waists and women wearing either an open or closed-back version.

The suits, a version of which will also be sold to the general public, will be available for presale beginning today and shipped in January. Prices range from a cap at $40 to the female super elite suit at $560.

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