26-09-2007: For triathletes, the race might not be to the swift, but rather to those using the most silicone equipment to keep them dry, comfortable and hydrated.
The latest swimming technology
In competitive swimming, high-quality equipment is almost as essential as proper training. Clear underwater vision is particularly important, making watertight and scratch-resistant goggles a necessity. Although goggles are available in a variety of materials, those that combine high-quality lenses with a silicone seal are leak-free, hypoallergenic, keep competitors' eyes protected from chlorine and water pollution, and are easier to clean.
Swimming caps reduce drag in the water and are available in latex and silicone formulations. Silicone swimming caps have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their increased durability, non-allergenic surface, and more comfortable fit when compared to latex swimming caps. For triathletes, silicone swimming caps are easier to put on and are wrinkle-free for better hydrodynamics. Earplugs and nose clips made from silicone are an inexpensive and effective way to prevent water from entering the ear or nose while in the water, allowing triathletes to make a quicker transition from one event to the next.
Biking technology and hydration
Advanced composite materials reduce bike frame weight while increasing strength and impact-resistance. New helmet designs, racing suits and specialized wheel spokes reduce drag from air friction, increasing speed and conserving competitors' strength.
To make the most of these advantages, proper hydration is crucial. Even minor dehydration can significantly decrease a triathlete's performance. New sport hydration packs allow bikers to drink from water containers on their backs. An innovative, one-piece silicone valve allows riders to simply bite and drink so they can maintain their speed without the burden of juggling a traditional water bottle.
Running shoes and sunscreen
Proper shoe choice is critical for runners, but few may be aware of the role silicone plays in keeping their most important piece of equipment functioning properly.
Many athletic shoes use silicone in adhesives to bond the rubber sole to the leather upper, or to produce shoe logos which are water resistant. These can be made with different colors and do not fade. Silicone surfactants play a crucial role in the production of polyurethane foam, a common material for shoe soles.
Durable, non-toxic and washable silicone shoe inserts help reduce the impact on the shin and calve muscles when running on hard surfaces such as roads. In these applications, silicones lend their long-lasting flexibility and durability to enhance high-impact, high-strength products.
An additional edge could go to triathletes who use silicone-based sunscreen formulations. Silicones boost the sun protection factor (SPF) to provide greater protection and also minimize wash- or wear-off, eliminating time needed to re-apply between events.