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The Swimsuit Competition

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Swimmers may feel like shrink-wrapped turkeys wearing the USA swimsuit, but they may shave a bit off their best times.

At least that is what Jerry Greenberg says. He is president of The Finals, the suit's maker and an eight-year-old New York company that climbed to No. 147 on last year's INC. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America by selling to swim coaches and teams.

The suit, which costs $25 for the women's model and $12 for the men's, fits so tightly it looks as if it were painted on. Actually, it is a standard tank suit with a smooth covering of a space-age polymer dubbed Miraculon. For three or four races -- until it peels off -- the plastic coating cuts water resistance and increases a swimmer's speed by about one second per 100 yards, Greenberg says.

Sounds great. But a plastic swimsuit doesn't breathe. At first, the company had to put up with a lot of returned suits from sweaty would-be beach bunnies, as well as some swimmers. Now, The Finals catalog sternly warns customers that the suit is not intended for general use. It is strictly for competition swimmers.

But Greenberg was unable to cash in on the biggest swimming competition of all. For the 1984 Olympic team, The Finals put together a special suit. But, like the Soviets it was nowhere to be seen. Even with the promise of faster times, says Greenberg, successful swimmers weren't ready to trade in their old reliables for unfamiliar high-tech duds.

Last updated: Oct 1, 1984




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