BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — A strange-looking Australian-designed polycarbonate swimming training device has helped an Aussie swimmer win gold at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
The injection molded PC device, called a Corsuit, has a nylon strap and an acetal thermoplastic buckle. It straps on like a belt, contouring to fit the spine and support swimmers’ core muscles and posture.
Rowan Crothers, a disabled swimmer with cerebral palsy, began training with a Corsuit last year and on July 24 won gold in the men’s 100-meter freestyle S9 final at the Commonwealth Games, an international, multi-sport event for British Commonwealth athletes.
Fellow Australian swimmer Christian Sprenger also trains with a Corsuit and won bronze in the men’s 50-meter breaststroke.
Brisbane-based Queensland University of Technology (QUT) industrial design graduate Sam James designed the Corsuit as a university assignment to improve swimmers’ speed and strength.
In 2010, after full-length bodysuits were banned from professional swimming, James examined how they improved swimmers’ technique.
He created the Corsuit to train swimmers to naturally replicate the advantages they had gained from wearing full bodysuits.
“The posture required for swimming is very unnatural, so the idea is to make it feel more natural. Most people, if not getting a quasi-regular reminder, tend to slip backwards,” James said.
A QUT innovation transfer company, QUTbluebox Pty. Ltd., helped James fund Corsuit’s development, which cost $100,000 Australian dollars (US$92,524) over three years.
James also got funding from two fellow QUT students, who are now co-directors of Brisbane-based Bluecore Pty. Ltd., a company James established last year to sell the product.
About 700 Corsuits have been sold in 22 countries via Bluecore’s website and direct to distributors. They cost A$54.50 (US$50.40) each.
Other professional swimmers who train with Corsuits are U.S. breaststroker Jessica Hardy, Dutch swimmer Joeri Verlinden and Bermudan Roy-Allan Burch.
The product is now being patented in Australia, with progress due for review early next year.
James is also developing a smaller Corsuit for children, which will be manufactured from softer, thinner PC covered with ethylene vinyl acetate.
James wants to build business in the U.S. and will attend a swim coaches’ conference in September to market the product.