Thursday, August 14, 2008

So many new world records in Olympic swimming...isn't that a bit suspicious?

I told you that this idea of having Olympic swimmers wear special bathing suits would have quite an impact. Now, the Australia swimming team has beaten the previous world record for 4x200m freestyle with a difference of more than 5 seconds!! Is it a coincidence that ALL of them wore the same special bathing suit? I don't think so.

The only alternative that I see, is that the Chinese organization was wrong while measuring the Olympic pool and it is in fact smaller than it should. Well, it wouldn't be such a surprise if they did this on purpose. Considering that they used pre-recorded songs and virtual fireworks in the open cerimony, I wouldn't be surprised if they did this to bring some extra attention to the Olympic Games in Beijing!! Everything to post a good image of China to the World...


Hugo S. said...

Herein lies and interesting question. Are the athletes able to use the Nasa + Speedo created, Portuguese made (at Petratex, Paços de Ferreira), LZR swimsuit?
The answer is simple.

Some swimmers have individual contracts with brands like Arena, Nike et al and some of the federations also have contracts, like Japan with local brands as Mizuno.

However, due to the improvement provided by the LZR some contracts have been changed, giving the athletes the opportunity to choose the swimsuit of their preference.
In that, athletes like Japan's Kitajima will be using the high tech suit, but others won't, like France's Manaudou (who won three medals in the 2004 Athens Games) who is still going to use Arena.
In fact all athletes who wish to use this suit will be provided with it.

Quoting an article at
"FINA approved the suits in agreement with the manufacturers and that's the situation," FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told The Associated Press.

"The only thing we can say is that we have followed the rules and done everything we can do. Sometimes controversy helps get more publicity for a sport. But it's still the athletes that have to do the swimming."

Marculescu said all athletes at the games will have access to any suit they want.

"All the major manufacturers will have special rooms set up at the pool where they can keep their equipment," Marculescu said. "They will be available to all of the athletes free of charge."

In Portugal few swimmers have used this suit. Diana Gomes was given one from some abroad relatives, Sara Oliveira received one from Speedo at Manchester after pressure from the Portuguese and US federations, since they wouldn't give her one despite the fact that she has a contract with them.
Sara broke the national record without the suit and, in the next day, she did it again with the LZR.
However, the Portuguese athelete said that the suit wasn't that good and it gave her a lot more confidence and some speed.
(I believe that she just didn't train with it before, hence the felt lack of speed)

In my humble opinion, as a person, i believe that the improvement of suits is not "cheating" since it still depends on the swimmer. A bad swimmer won't improve just by using a new high tech suit. The other brands have to adapt their suits with new technology.
We see this all the time in football (in shoes like the Adidas Predator, the Nike Total90 and Mercurial Vapor), tennis (with the lightweight carbon fiber rackets and new strings), athletics (the high tech running shoes) and no one points a finger to it.

As a swimming referee, i can only say that if it's allowed by FINA, then it's legal.

António Lopes said...

Thanks for your comment. There's some truth in what you say. It's not clear whether or not these suits are influencing the swimmers' performance, but the stats are against you :-)

Ever since this next-gen swimming suits have been introduced, more records have been broken than ever before...

So, unless a new swimming technique has been introduced that allowed swimmers to excel their capabilities, I believe the suits play a great part in this "movie".

Hugo S. said...

It's true, the stats are against me, but it's also true that the swimsuit was designed to break the records.
The current swimmers are already near the maximum for a human being, at least for a current one (how shall i know what lies in the future?).

Swimming techniques are very strict. In fact we referees have to be very alert and even have to observe whether an athlete has a slight characteristic while swimming.
As an example, let's see a butterfly swimmer.
His legs have to be at the same horizontal plane, as well as his hands. But there are athletes who have the left leg a little below the horizontal plane. If, on the return, the athlete changes the order (the left turns to be the upper) then the athlete is disqualified.

Only in freestyle it's possible for an athlete to change the swimming style since it's... Freestyle. You can even end the distance with you arse.

It's true that the suit plays a great part in the movie, but it's also the training which gives athletes the speed they have. Without it, the suit would be irrelevant, since it needs some adaptation for an athlete to understand the way it works.