Wetsuits for paratriathletes

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This challenge is an opportunity for students to explore, experiment and innovate whilst designing a specialised wetsuit for paratriathletes who need specialised equipment to allow them to compete. Whilst the development in technology of prosthetic limbs, racing wheelchairs and handcycles has been substantial, no such developments have been made with wetsuits for paratriathletes.

At the moment, paratriathletes have to adapt their wetsuits themselves. They splint their legs by inserting poles inside the wetsuit. They strap their legs to keep them together. Some even stitch the legs of the wetsuit together. The students may think about designing a kind of ‘mermaid’ suit, with both legs fitting into one ‘leg’ (like a sleeping bag). They might include additional zips, allowing the wetsuit to be removed like a banana skin. Further considerations may be given to the legs of the wetsuit, incorporating extra buoyancy and built-in splints (or pouches, a bit like putting up a camping tent).

The factsheets provide information that the students may find helpful when planning what to do and developing their design ideas. The information may help the students to decide what the most important properties are to include in the design of their wetsuit. They also provide some suggestions for tests and activities (buoyancy and streamlining factsheets).

Curriculum links: buoyancy, streamlining, materials, mass, weight, force and pressure, density.designing and making, creativity, critical evaluation, design, make and evaluate task, sport science, iterative processes, prototypes.

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