This year, all of a sudden, the "In'' bathing costume is a body suit concealing arms and legs and hair in an effort to reduce the friction in the water and cut fractions of seconds from the standing records.
Not everyone agrees that the LZR suit is all-powerful. Perhaps the benefits are psychological, giving the swimmer an extra measure of confidence. Perhaps the records have been shattered because of the intensive training in an Olympic year. It's too soon to tell.
As with most new innovations, the LZR suit comes with problems. It is very expensive, at this point only feasible for swimmers who have some kind of contract arrangement, or team backing.
The knit is so tight that it sometimes takes longer to put the suit on than to swim the distance for which it is worn. And there are some people who feel that the suit is like steroids, an unnatural, illegal supplement to the athlete's talents. Apparently we can expect that, sooner or later, these glamour suits will be the subject of court cases.
The technologies developed in the LZR suits - body compression, a super-sleek surface to glide through the water, and the elimination of bulky seams by welding the parts together - will undoubtedly be applied elsewhere, and will themselves be replaced by other discoveries.
There's always something new under the sun!
Betty VanNewkirk is the historian for the Frostburg Museum.