Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why we don't need "Tech Suits" in Swimming

One of the best....ok, make that two of the best things that happened at the 2011 FINA World Swimming Championships were the new world records.  When Ryan Lochte (200m IM) and Sun Yang (1500m Free) broke and set new world records it should have removed all doubt about whether or not we need the so called "Tech Suits" once and for all.

As a coach, there is nothing more disconcerting than whether it was your mentorship or the suit that helped your swimmer get a best time, win a race, etc.  I am of the opinion that suits are meant to hold stuff tightly and comfortably as possible.  Other than that, there should be no aid given to the swimmer.  We all know that the technical suits from Speedo, TYR, Jaked, Blueseventy, etc provided much more than just a means to keep body parts in, they provided buoyancy; for some more than others.

Since the ban in 2009, all has been calm, but the controversy appears far from over.  But after reading the two part essay (click here for part 1 and part 2) at the SCAQ blog, and the subsequent comments from readers, I am concerned that there are still those out there that want the suits back.  The professional swimmer who wrote the article gave a great account from his/her perspective (a perspective most of us have not been privy too).  The technical suits were bad for business...the professional swimming business.  I want as many swimmers as possible to make money in their craft.

My biggest gripe about the suits is that, right now, there is not that much difference between a $100 suit and a top of the line $300 suit.  If you don't have much money to spend on a suit, you are not at much, if any, of a handicap.  However, if you bring back the technical suits you suddenly make swimming a game of "haves and have nots".  The difference between the $100 suits and the top of the line $500-$600 suits was enormous.  Heck, the difference between the $300 suits and the top of the line suits was enormous.

One of my biggest fears is that FINA, under pressure from the suit manufacturers, will revert back to allowing the non-textile suits.  Such a change would bring a long a rebirth of swimming not being about the swimmers, but their suits.  I hope it does not happen.  What is great for the manufacturers and retailers of suits is not necessarily what is good for the sport.

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