The Speedo story

From fabric world-firsts to iconic sporting moments, our journey to international swimwear brand is rich in history and innovation. Discover how it all began with a young Scotsman in 1910

Jump to decade

Explore our history

2010s

2014

The Speedo Fit Pinnacle swimwear range launches

Speedo launches its first body positioning swimwear range, designed to enhance technique and help swimmers achieve their fitness goals

2013

The Fastskin LZR Racer Elite 2 takes centre stage

The world’s most successful suit is reengineered with improved fabrics, powerful compression, new suit colours and a 40% increase in durability of water repellency.

Happy 85th anniversary Speedo!

All of Michael Phelps’ Olympic medals between 2004 and 2012 were won whilst wearing Speedo suits.
Wearing Speedo, Michael Phelps wins his 22nd medal, becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time.

2012

More swimmers at the London 2012 Olympics wear Speedo than all other brands combined.

Success at London 2012

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, 57% of all swimming medals are won by athletes wearing Speedo.

Cap, goggle and suit ‘become one’

Speedo launches the Fastskin Racing System: cap, goggle and suit engineered to work as one efficient streamlined form, reducing drag.

2011

Speedo House gets the royal treatment

HRH The Princess Royal officially opens Speedo House, the new global headquarters located in Nottingham’s NG2 business park.

2010

The TriathELITE collection gets an update

Alongside a new range of TriathELITE wetsuits, suits and goggles, Speedo launches the first triathlete-specific iPhone App.

Speedo work with ‘From Somewhere’

Speedo collaborates with sustainable fashion designers ‘From Somewhere’ to create dresses using surplus Speedo LZR Racer suits.

Speedo Sculpture Shapeline swimwear launches

The body-shaping swimwear provides the nearest thing to a made-to-measure swimsuit on the market.

2000s

2009

Upcoming FINA rule changes herald a new LZR Racer generation

Speedo’s FINA-compliant LZR Racer Elite, LZR Racer Pro and LZR Racer Comp launch, catering for grass roots to elite-level swimmers.

2008

Happy 80th birthday, Speedo!

The LZR RACER® suit changes the face of swimming

The world’s most technically advanced swimsuit, The LZR Racer, launches and is famously worn by Michael Phelps as he wins 8 golds at the Beijing Olympics.

2007

The Fastskin legacy continues

Fastskin FS-PRO, the fastest, most powerful lightweight suit on the market, launches and 21 world records are broken within 6 months.

2005

Speedo supports the World Swim Against Malaria Foundation

Speedo begins a long-standing relationship supporting malaria charity World Swim Against Malaria Foundation.

Speedo collaborates with fashion label Comme des Garcons.

2004

More swimmers at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games wear Speedo than all other brands combined.

FASTSKIN FSII launches, reducing passive drag by up to 4%

An evolution of Fastskin, FSII is worn by Michael Phelps during his six gold medal wins at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

2003

Speedo celebrates its 75th anniversary

To mark its 75th year, fashion designer Melissa Odabash designs a limited edition anniversary collection, modelled by Naomi Campbell and Yasmin Le Bon.

2000

TriathELITE, the first triathlon collection, launches

Simon Whitfield wins gold wearing Speedo TriathELITE at Sydney 2000, as triathlon is contested at the Olympics for the very first time.

FASTSKIN makes a phenomenal debut

At the Sydney 2000 Olympics, 13 of the 15 World Records and 83% of all swimming medals are won by swimmers wearing FASTSKIN suits.

The world is wowed by FASTSKIN

Speedo launches the pioneering FASTSKIN® swimsuit. Inspired by shark skin, it proves a hit with world-class athletes, including Michael Phelps.

1990s

1998

Benoit Leconte swims 5,600km across the Atlantic Ocean in 72 days, swimming up to 8 hours daily.

1996

AQUABLADE gets the athletes’ seal of approval

At the Atlanta Games, 77% of all swimming medals are won are by athletes wearing Speedo’s latest AQUABLADE swimsuits.

Speedo launches the new AQUABLADE suit

Hot on the heels of the S2000 is AQUABLADE – a new suit design with 8% lower surface resistance.

1994

Speedo makes the world’s first chlorine-resistant fabric

The trailblazing continues as Speedo launches Endurance, the world’s first chlorine-resistant fabric.

1992

The S2000 makes waves in Barcelona

53% of all swimming medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics are won by swimmers wearing the newly-launched suit.

The S2000 suit launches, boasting 15% less drag

Speedo’s reputation for innovation continues with the new S2000 suit, designed to reduce drag by 15% compared to conventional swimwear fabric.

1991

Pentland Group takes ownership of Speedo.

1980s

1984

Speedo athletes go for gold in Los Angeles

Speedo remains the go-to brand for elite swimmers, with 21 gold, 20 silver and 16 bronze Olympic medals going to Speedo athletes.

1970s

1979

[1979-1981] The Speedo trademark is protected in 112 countries

By now, manufacturing and distribution licenses are held in Belgium, Italy and Spain, amongst other countries.

1977

Swimmers finally allowed to wear goggles to compete.

1976

Speedo is the official Olympic swimwear choice

Speedo is made official swimwear licensee for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, with 52 of 54 teams competing in the brand.

1972

Speedo swimwear dominates in Munich

At the Munich Olympics, a staggering 21 out of 22 world records are broken by swimmers wearing Speedo, while 52 of 58 nations compete in Speedo swimwear.

1970

Speedo pioneers nylon/elastane swimwear

Speedo is the first company to start producing swimwear made of nylon/elastane – still the most popular swimwear fabric today.

1960s

1968

Speedo strikes gold at the 1968 Mexico Games

Of the 29 gold medallists, 27 wear Speedo suits. Meanwhile, 22 of the 23 world records are set by swimmers wearing Speedo.
44 countries compete in Speedo swimwear at the Mexico Olympic Games.

1950s

1959

Speedo buys a 30% share of Robert Shall and Co. Ltd

The company is based in Nottingham, England – later to become home to Speedo’s International headquarters, in 2011.

First step towards world domination

Speedo begins exporting to the USA and forms a new international division to monitor markets in New Zealand, Japanese and South Africa.

1957

Nylon swimwear marks another fabric first for Speedo

An established pioneer of swimwear innovations, Speedo launches a swimsuit in the new wonder fabric, Nylon.

1956

Introduction of the flip-turn

The Melbourne Olympic Games sees the introduction of the ‘flip-turn’, which helps swimmers change directions at the pool-end more quickly.

It’s gold at the Melbourne Olympics

Sponsorship of the entire Australian team transforms Speedo into a world famous brand. The team sweep the board with 8 gold medals.

1954

A beachwear classic is born

Speedo’s relationship with the lifesaving community leads to the creation of a brand new style of men’s swimwear – the Speedo Watershort.

1952

1951

Speedo hits the Stock Exchange

Speedo Knitting Mills (holdings) Ltd becomes a publicly traded company on the Sydney Stock Exchange.

1940s

1948

The athletes’ choice

Speedo continues to dominate competitive swimming, with an increasing number of athletes choosing to endorse the Speedo brand.

1947

Demands for bikinis sees sales soar

After the war, Speedo opens a new factory to cope with increased demand for swimsuits – spearheaded by the bikini.

The new two-piece is banned on Aussie beaches

Not yet commonly regarded as decent, the bikini is banned by Australian beach inspectors.

1946

The bikini is invented in Paris.

1930s

1939

[1939-1945] Speedo dedicates manufacturing to the war effort

During World War Two, over 90% of output is given to the war effort, making knitwear, underwear, mosquito nets and signal flags.

1936

Speedo forges links with the life-saving community

McRae forms strong links with Australia’s Surf Life Saving Association, an association which continues to this day.

Bare chests and Speedos for the Berlin Olympic Games

Speedo’s popularity continues. Australia’s men’s swimming team wear Speedo, including a daring, bare-chested swim shorts design.

1935

first topless men’s swimsuits are worn in America.

1934

[1934-1935] Butterfly becomes established

Americans David Armbruster and Jack Sieg invent the double over-the-water arm recovery and dolphin kick respectively, forming the ‘butterfly’.

1932

Medal winner Claire Dennis’ Speedo suit deemed controversial

Despite her medal and world record, Claire Dennis’s Speedo swimsuit causes controversy for showing ‘too much shoulder’.

Olympic success for Australia and Speedo

Los Angeles Olympics: Speedo-wearing Claire Dennis becomes the first Australian woman to set a swimming world record and win a gold medal.

1930

The first heated swimming pools are introduced.

1920s

1929

Swimmer Arne Borg sets a world record wearing Speedo

The Swedish swimmer’s world record achievement establishes Speedo in the hearts and minds of swimmers and the general public.

First Speedo branded swimsuits produced

1928

Speed on in your Speedos

Jim Parsons wins a competition to name the new swimwear with his entry “Speed on in your Speedos”. The Speedo name is born.

The world’s first non-wool suit

Fortitude launches the world’s first non-wool swimsuit in the figure-hugging ‘Racerback’ style, freeing wearers to swim faster.

1924

Lane dividers made of cork are used for the first time at the Paris Olympics, and lines on the pool bottom aid orientation.

1910s

1914

Fortitude makes socks for the Australian army during the World War 1.

The first factory opens

MacRae sets up a knitwear factory in Sydney’s Regent Street, using the name ‘Fortitude’, taken from the family crest.

1912

Johnny Weissmuller becomes the first man to break the one minute barrier in the 100 m freestyle.
At the Stockholm Olympic Games, women swam competitively for the first time.

1910

The story begins

Alexander MacRae, a young scot, emigrates to Australia to seek his fortune.