She was 15 years old at her first Olympic Games, in Athens. Now, at 19, Katie Hoff is looking to Beijing, and experts are calling her the "female Michael Phelps." She could win multiple golds in China, thanks at least in part to her SPEEDO LZR RACER (pronounced "laser") swimsuit, which compresses her body at key points to reduce "form drag," making her smaller (and thus faster) in the water. The dark, NASA-tested panels also shed water. Speedo eschews fabric stitching, instead bonding the panels to the suit’s nylon core using ultrasonic "welding."
A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.