Swimming: Wilkie's silicone mask is the new face of swimming

Britain's swimmers are trying out a revolutionary silicone mask in their pursuit of world and Olympic medals.

The mask, an idea of former Olympic gold medallist David Wilkie, combines the traditional swimming cap and goggles and has a bold Union Jack across the top of the head.

The mask (right), modelled by Karen Pickering and Graham Smith, will be marketed by Speedo. "It is mainly for the competitive swimmer but there is no reason why it shouldn't be worn by the recreational swimmer as well," Wilkie said.

Wilkie, who won silver in Munich in 1972 and gold at Montreal four years later, was the first male swimmer to wear separate swim cap and goggles in international competition.

But results show that the mask reduces drag around the eyes by up to 53 per cent. "Swimmers are getting faster all the time,'' Wilkie said. ``In my breaststroke events, times have improved by four seconds over 20 years and some events still more.

"We have shaved our heads and we have shaved body hair and you wonder how much more can be done.''