Absolutely agree Charles. I do some work with the SIM Center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and this would fit right in with their expertise. Their fluid mechanics / graphics capabilities are outstanding. The coolest thing I have seen lately is fluid flow around an F- 22 Raptor. They modeled laminar and turbulent flow in dynamic fashion and made everyone a true believer. The margin of error is decreasing so accuracy is truly impressive. As you state—great project for CFD relative to the Speedo.
Good points, mniesslein. So what can be done? The only solution I can see would be to force everyone to wear the exact same suit. Regarding baseball: I believe aluminum bats are allowed at the college level, although recent rules changes have decreased the size of the sweet spot. Major league baseball also uses maple bats, which are downright dangerous but nevertheless allowed. In a Chicago Cubs game in 2010, a player on third base was hit by a shard from a maple bat and it penetrated his chest, less than half an inch from his heart. The battle to keep everything on an even playing field is never-ending.
If a suit alone is resposible for 1.3 to 2.2% reduction in a race. I would consider it an unfair advantage. As a comparison in MLB all bats have specific requirements, the must be made of ash wood, etc, etc. There are no metal bats used in MLB. Using a suit where in the 100 Meter Freestyle, a 48 second race, where 2% is roughly a second. A second can be the difference between 1st place and 20th place. In a 200 Meter race that advantage just went up to 2 seconds. That is a huge difference provided by a suit. Same person, same race, same exact conditions, only a different suit. Some swimmers even went against their contracts with other suit providers to wear their suits exclusively to wear the Speedo LZR "Lazer" suit. FINA finally picked up on it and stopped it. Just the same as if someone in the MLB having cork in their bat. There is athletic training and an athletes ability and then there is the equipment that is used. Some sports allow the use of any type of equipment with few restrictions and some sports do not.
With the use of steroids and other "enhancements" to sports more rules and regulations need to be laid down for the use of such types of equipment. There are multiple ways to look at it. In auto racing the same gas is used, the same tires, there are regulations on downforce and wing angles, weight, etc... In fact at most auto races the gas and tires must be purchased at the race track for a lot more than one would spend on them at their favorite tire store. The tires have a special stamp on them that means they were inspected.
As these new technologies evolve fast and faster the governing bodies of the sports need to be able to move equally as fast to regulate the use of equipment that gives an unfair advantage.
I've just read the other posts re. the cost, usage & select availability to a few which then makes me agree with the banning.
Though Amclaussen's post has made me wonder if the best is not to go back to the origin of the Olympics & leave technology completely behind ...namely with nothing on.... the behind!
Of course we'd have to keep an eye out for those who would then still seek & use the technological advantage of ....body oil or shaving body hair.... speaking of which... should we not then have to consider a handicap system ...for those with an abundance of hair being at a disadvantage??
MrDon I hear what you're saying and I agree to a point.
Should the 'technology' be of the nature that for some or other reason it is not available to all or restricted to a select few then I also say that it may not be used until such time as the non-use thereof is due to one of personal choice & not inability to consider it as a choice.
Bearing in mind though that when I speak of technology in this regard my concept of such is along the lines of 'an improvement in an area that does not become unnatural but is a natural progression within that field' is acceptable - i.e. to come up with a better fabric construction & placement thereof is & should be acceptable - the swimmer is still doing the swimming BUT should this fabric morph into thousands of tiny scram-jet motors upon contact with water & assist in this manner then NO! certainly not.
I say this with tongue slightly in cheek & my eye on all sports through the ages - the chalk dust gymnasts use on their hands, the black line under the eye of footballers, the spikes under a sprinters shoe, the carbon fibre in a pole vaulters pole ..........etc
Breaking new records is important, but the idea that technology, which is so pervasive in all aspects of today's life, wouldn't be applied to competitive sports is short sighted and in some ways, naive. People (even in developing countries) buy state-of-the-art running shoes to compete in marathons, baseball players are using composite bats that hit it out of the park more easily than before, I mentioned golf in an earlier comment, and there are examples in nearly every sport. Yes, the playing field should be level so everyone has access to these technological advances, but I think we're naive to think technology won't have an influence on competitive sports.
I'm sorry, buti I don't concur: I checked some dictionary definitions that apply to the word "record", as related to sports, law and science. (I wanted to check it completely, since English is not my native language!):
An unsurpassed measurement
An account, as of information or facts, set down especially in writing as a means of preserving knowledge.
An account officially written and preserved as evidence or testimony.
Anything which is recorded in writing or otherwise for future reference...
Those definitions confirmed to me that the intention of registering such sporting events has, necessarily, the intention of keeping them for posterity. What is the purpose of keeping the measured record, if conditions change so drastically, that it is no longer comparable to new "records"?
Now, why is that record measurement is today as close to exact measurements as technically feasible, I mean, measuring swimming times to the 1/100 sec AND confirming who won by using high speed video analyzing frames shot 1/10,000th of a second apart... Does it make sense if the drag reduction when using this type of suit is above 2%??? For me, it simply means that it was MOSTLY the suit and NOT the athlete; great as a technical/scientific advancement, but completely wrong for a Sport, specially at the Olympics.
Another recorded fact: 98% of all medals won at the Beijing Olympics were won by wimmers wearing the suit. Statistically filtering the recorded data shows the improvement was clearly due to technology, much more than pure, undisturbed athletes merit.
If anything, FINA (the International Federation ie.regulating body) could only be accused of hesitating too long, since "records" stablished between February 2008 and December 2009 before FINA banned the suits in January 1, 2010, are now NOT comparable to those of the past. As engineers, we would be better reverse-calculating the true, un-aided performance in order to be able to better judge the real performance of the athletes.
The (ab)use of technology in sports has led to the creation of a new term: Technology Doping, which tells it all in only two words.
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