As a college swimmer, I can agree with FINA decision to level the playing field on these "special suits". The problem was that they were in very short supply. Many swimmers did not have access to them. And if you were lucky you may get 4 swims out of them. If you have a long meet or invitational you would be lucky to get a whole meet out of them. $500 - 800 X 20 swimmers = $10000 - $16000. Then you need more than one per swimmer. That is more than a typical college pays for suits for the team for the entire season. These suits are fragile and very tight and uncomfortable. You have to be a contortionist to get into them. Taking them on and off is where the suits become damaged. THe seams rip and stretch. On top of that they took a lot of time to make and were in short supply. I don't remember exactly what type of bonding they had to do to the seams but it was very costly and time consuming. So, only the elite of the elite had access to the suits because the companies wanted these suits to be on the top performers. That is where the unfair advantage comes in. If everyone can not have access to them and the companies hand pick who can get the suits then it becomes an unfair advantage. I applaud FINA for their decision, but wish that this decision would have happened before the 2008 Olympics, which might have made them outlaw these suits before the times were tainted from these suits.
Some sort of limits need to be drawn when everyone can't have access to a suit. Even though these suits were ridiculously expensive. You could not buy them even if you had the money because of the long times of manufacturing the suit.
RedRockSA, I see your point. I do believe there should be some type, I hate to say it, regulation that will still allow sport's manufacturers to continue with their R&D initiatives but also but a limit on how far the tech can be used enhance the athelete's natural abilities.
With regard to the fINA banning I must confess to being a bit flummoxed as to their reasoning & at the same time do not agree with a 2 stream system (one au natural the other tech enhanced).
Having being a serious swimmer myself I wonder at the banning simply because all records broken are done so via some form of 'enhancement' or 'break-through' either mentally or physically or even due to revised 'rules' (eg. when I swam breastsroke your head could not submerge - to do so would mean disqualification - today you may - an enormous advantage with less resistance).
Where do we place swim items such as nose-clip, goggles, swim cap, paper-lycra etc all of these accepted things were in their day a 'tech marvel' that gave some advantage - so why this advancement by speedo?
What about shaving/ We would do a complete body shave for the BIG comps - did that help for faster times - who knows but psychologically it did & I suspect that these swim-suits to some degree do assist but dont forget the power of the mind believing it works! The 4min mile was a no-go for many years - as soon as it was broken within a week or two many others also completed a sub 4min mile.
Musashi, The idea of having two sports competitions of traditional and technology assisted sounds intriguing. With 2 categories available, maybe sports organizations and manufacters can come to a mutual agreement on what products can be designed using technology to meet the overall goal of the target competition in question.
Beth, I agree with you. If other sports manufacturers are using technology to enhance an atheletes ability to increase their performance as well as break records, where's the problem? If there is a requirement in which the governing sport organization want's to restrict the amount of technology enhancement the manufacturer can incorporate into their product, then a design specification should be written to be applied across the board. Hopefully, such a document will appease the governing body of the target sport organization.
I don't want to be a wet blanket here (no pun intended) but to me the real story Beth is bringing is not the swimsuit but the use of CFD performed by engineering team(s) at Speedo.This technology was obviously used to produce the necessary design, thus reducing drag and improving the basic "slip-stream" desired.The 16.6 percent reduction in drag seems to be remarkable.Beth, I do have one question—I'm not knowledgeable relative to the term "oxygen economy".How does the suit improve oxygen economy?I am assuming CFD would need to be performed on each swimmer in order to find that "perfect fit", taking into consideration body shape, length, etc etc. of each swimmer. Am I correct here? I find it very interesting that FINA outlawed theLZR design in order to reduce the number of world records.This seems very "retro" to me and definitely counter-productive.
Logically, there probably should be two categories of pure human and technology assisted records, but most people would probably just be interested in the records without distinguishing (except maybe as a footnote). This is a reason why banned technologies often become accepted after time. This also the reason that most sports do not have two categories of competition.
The use of technology is not considered "cheating" because people know about it and it is not hidden. This is especially true where a company like Speedo claims credit for the technology.
I look forward to the day when a swim suit makes me look more presentable on a beach and allow me to swim like a porpoise.
It's interesting that we're debating the effect of technology on swimmers here. Seems to me that swimming should be exposed to less technological "cheating" than any other sport. Think of the Olympics: sprinting, distance running, basketball and field events depend heavily on shoes; baseball depends on bat material and size, as well as glove design; archery, badminton, fencing, sailing; rowing, skiing and shooting depend on various types of equipment. In professional sports, you've got football, baseball and hockey, all of which use equipment. I can't imagine any sport that's less technology-dependent than a guy in a pool wearing a Speedo.
I would imagine a situation where a record is NOT broken for many years, stablished by a truly extraordinary athlete... Then, htat record is finally broken by another person years after, in EXACTLY the same conditions. Now, it then would be extraordinary! The other way, there is absolutely no way to check if the new "record" REALLY IS a new record... or simply a very good technological help.
What makes any external help different in an Olympics competition, is that allowing it invalidates any valid speed, time or performance record comparisons between previous competitions, thus nobody can know how good is a given athlete or team... previous records simply cannot be compared to newer, technology helped ones! Olympics are a tradition per se. It is not easy to distinguish if the new record was due to the technology or the actual performance of the athlete.
We should divide competitions in two very different classes: those where humans stablish records by themselves period, and those where absolute better records are sought. It is interesting that even when technology is continuously evolving, some rare records still remain... that makes them extra-special. Have you seen the movie called "The Fastest Indian in the world"? (Motorcycle under 1,000 cc).
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