Local company helps give U.S. Olympic swim team competitive edge



CANONSBURG, Pa. - A Washington County company is hoping to make a splash at the Summer Olympics.

ANSYS helped design a lot of the swimwear you'll see at the pool in London, by making sure swimmers are dressed for success.

ANSYS is an engineering software developer headquartered in Southpointe.

Jim Cashman, ANSYS chief executive officer, said their software helped Speedo create a perfect suit, from head to toe.

"It took the best world-class athletes and gave them one or two percent edge," he told Channel 11's Rich Walsh.

The software analyzed fluid dynamics and identified areas where the slowing effects of drag where likely to occur.

Joe Santry then used that information in Speedo's Aqualab to develop the Fastskin Racing system, which includes suits, caps and goggles.

It is the first world's first swimsuit designed as a single, cohesive unit.

"We can see that the new goggle design reduces the force at the top of the goggle by 64.3 percent," said Santry.

Fastskin is designed to make the elite swimmer faster, and Cashman said it could mean the difference between gold and silver.

"Over a course of a 100-meter race it would make the difference of about two meters," he said. "Really all it does is make the swimmer more efficient and slippery in the water."

ANSYS and Speedo are proven experts in this.

For the 2008 Olympics, ANSYS technology lead Speedo to create the Speedo LZR RACER, a suit billed as "the world's fastest swimsuit."

Some 89 percent of all swimming medals won in Beijing, including Michael Phelps' eight gold medals, were won by athletes wearing Speedo LZR RACER, drawing complaints that the suit gave swimmers an unfair advantage.

Since then, FINA, the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and opening water swimming, has banned all non-textile apparel and the bodysuit cut.

"Working with Speedo we were able to accomplish some very significant things in this new generation," said Cashman.

ANSYS and Speedo are already working on new products for the 2016 Games.

The German rowing team is also using ANSYS software for different classes of racing boats. The ANSYS software analyzed the fluid dynamics to develop faster boats.