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Some swimmers are contractually banned from wearing the suits, leading to a competitive disadvantage

Speedo's technologically advanced Fastskin LZR Racer swimsuit generated a lot of controversy when it was first introduced in February of 2008. Michael Phelps wore the suit when he broke seven world records at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Dozens of other athletes sponsored by Speedo have worn the suit as well, leading to 182 world records broken by swimmers wearing a LZR Racer as of June 2009.

The LZR (pronounced laser) swimsuit claims its hydrodynamic success by replicating biological skin characteristics of various marine animals such as sharks and dolphins. It allows for higher oxygen flow to the muscles and holds the body in a more hydronomic position. The ultra-thin suit itself is composed of woven elastane-nylon and polyurethane panels which repel water, reduce muscle oscillations, and lower hydrodynamic drag by up to 10%. The seams of the suit are also bonded together ultrasonically to further reduce drag.

Speedo also received support from NASA and used computational fluid dynamics software from ANSYS for fluid flow analysis.

The supremacy of swimsuits from Speedo has led to a spate of development from rival firms. Two of the most interesting are the Jaked 01 and the Arena Powerskin X-Glide. Both were disqualified in May from the approved list of swimsuits by FINA, the sports federation for swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo and open water swimming. A FINA statement said that the 10 swimsuits were rejected "for not passing the tests of buoyancy and/or thickness".

However, French sprinters Alain Bernard and Frederic Bousquet had already used the new suits to set new world records earlier before the ruling.

Bernard was denied the world record title in 100m freestyle swimming after FINA decided his world record time of 46.94 seconds would not hold up because he was wearing the Arena Powerskin X-Glide.
Bousquet wore the Jaked 01 in May at the Charlotte UltraSwim, beating out Michael Phelps in the 100m final. His world record time of 20.94 seconds in the 50m freestyle was allowed, even though the Jaked 01 was not approved.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that FINA reversed its decision to disqualify the swimsuits on June 19, citing that "it would require considerable time to create and implement comprehensive control mechanisms and test methods which would permit to establish the effect with absolute certainty in connection with particular swimsuits".

Since they could not test individual suits reliably for the air-trapping effects, they would allow the use of the suits on a temporary basis. Such a large reversal meant that many athletes were making last minute decisions on swimsuits.

Many swimming athletes earn most of their income through sponsorship deals with swimsuit companies. This makes it a difficult choice when a new, more technologically advanced and higher performing suit becomes available. They can choose to wear the new suits and possibly post their best ever times, but at the loss of sponsorship money and possibly severe financial penalties.

Michael Phelps was awarded a $1 million bonus from Speedo for beating Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals. He has decided to stick with Speedo.

"It does take away from some things," Phelps said. "A lot of swimmers are going to put up a lot of great times this summer, and a lot of it is going to be headlined by the suits. I just think it's not fair to other athletes and the athletes out there performing."

The US National Swim Championships will be held next week, from July 7 to July 11. The FINA World Championships will be held in Rome, Italy from July 18 to August 2.

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Money money money!
By WoWCow on 7/2/2009 12:13:10 PM , Rating: 4
Seriously, all that money aside, we should really just have swimmers do it old fashioned Greek style, in nude.

Of course, all the politicians and children associations will scream aloud at how perverted it will be to watch sports then.

Hell, I think in the future, if they want a record time, just attach a rocket on the swimmers and watch it go boom!

Nice pic btw, guy looks like a super hero.

RE: Money money money!
By HostileEffect on 7/2/2009 12:18:58 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't the manhood cause drag?

RE: Money money money!
By Mitch101 on 7/2/2009 3:01:49 PM , Rating: 5
Yes and I was banned from international waters just for swimming because of the problems it caused.

RE: Money money money!
By erikejw on 7/4/2009 6:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
"Wouldn't the manhood cause drag? "

This might be the sporting event that women will overtake men then.

RE: Money money money!
By mezman on 7/6/2009 3:53:28 PM , Rating: 3
Poorly endowed men would surely have a competitive advantage.

RE: Money money money!
By PAPutzback on 7/2/2009 12:19:27 PM , Rating: 3
I'm thinking it's a chic.

RE: Money money money!
By PAPutzback on 7/2/2009 12:23:44 PM , Rating: 3
RE: Money money money!
By jconan on 7/2/2009 9:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
other than her fingers she looks very masculine, and her top seems 2 be mooby like than vice versa...

RE: Money money money!
By Brandon Hill on 7/2/2009 12:20:54 PM , Rating: 5
Dude looks like lady

RE: Money money money!
By jconan on 7/2/2009 9:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
that is one masculine lady...

RE: Money money money!
By mkruer on 7/2/2009 12:35:34 PM , Rating: 3
Greek style Olympics would certainly attract more viewers.

RE: Money money money!
By nafhan on 7/2/2009 12:45:12 PM , Rating: 2
It seems like it would be pretty easy to set a standard for swimsuits. This isn't auto racing with 100's of different components that can be tweaked and upgraded.
Standardize suit shape and material (100% nylon or lycra, maybe), and BAM it becomes a purely physical rather technological sport, again.
Of course, there would also be the political fallout with regards to sponsorship, and recent world records. I think it's the only fair way to do it.
Nude would also work from a fairness perspective, but there are some people that might have a problem with it...

RE: Money money money!
By Entropy42 on 7/2/2009 1:14:24 PM , Rating: 5
Nude would also work from a fairness perspective, but there are some people that might have a problem with it...

Attendance at the 500m Men's Backstroke would certainly be at an all time low.

RE: Money money money!
By Lexda on 7/2/2009 1:18:09 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, but you couldn't sell tickets fast enough to the Women's Backstroke. I imagine diving would also see an attendance spike.

For the record, though, nude doesn't work so well. Way too much drag. I'm not trying to be perverted, or assert my wang size; not only would that have too many flopping parts (both guys and girls), but srsly, that would be somewhat painful as you dove into the water...

RE: Money money money!
By Lastfreethinker on 7/2/2009 2:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
The idea isn't that it would cause less drag but that is would be a far more even playing field as well as records getting broken based on skill not the latest swim wear.

RE: Money money money!
By Ender42 on 7/3/2009 10:06:30 AM , Rating: 2
Till the sport is dominated by those less endowed..

RE: Money money money!
By Lexda on 7/2/2009 1:15:31 PM , Rating: 5
Here's an idea: Speedos. Not the brand, but the style. Nice, simple, small, and uniform. You've the most skin in contact with the water possible (without going Greek), and it's easy to regulate.

RE: Money money money!
By xRyanCat on 7/7/2009 3:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
And what will women wear?

The more of their body the suit covers, the faster they can go, so women would automatically be at a competitive advantage. (Even though women and men don't compete directly.)

RE: Money money money!
By Souka on 7/2/2009 1:27:23 PM , Rating: 2
even if only %100 nylon was allowed, it can be sewn and shapped to trap air...increase bouancy....which is what FINA is having a hard time to define limits and test for.

Good idea though...

Who knows...maybe just limit to 1oz of natural, hand spun cotton (by the swimmer).


RE: Money money money!
By dali71 on 7/2/2009 4:34:08 PM , Rating: 3
Nude would also work from a fairness perspective, but there are some people that might have a problem with it...

Fair for women, but not for men. Switch to nude swimming, then watch the Asian men dominate.

RE: Money money money!
By surt on 7/2/2009 7:49:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not fair for women either, though in the other direction, due to the buoyancy disparity.

RE: Money money money!
By Koder on 7/2/2009 2:05:17 PM , Rating: 5
Frozone: Honey?

Honey: What?

Frozone: Where's my super suit?

Honey: What?

Frozone: Where is my super suit?

Honey: I uh - put it away.

Frozone: Where?

Honey: Why do you need to know?

Frozone: I need it!

Honey: Nuh uh! Don't you think about leaving to do some derrin' do! We've been planning this dinner for two months!

Frozone: The public is in danger!

Honey: My evening's in danger!

Frozone: You tell me where my suit is woman! This is for the greater good!

Honey: I am your wife! I am the greatest 'good' you are ever gonna get!

RE: Money money money!
By PlasmaBomb on 7/3/2009 7:51:53 AM , Rating: 1

RE: Money money money!
By MaestroCaldwell on 7/2/2009 2:52:58 PM , Rating: 3
Okay, slap one of those swimsuits on me and you're not going to see me contending with the big boys. The VAST majority of what makes these Olympians so great is their strength, stamina, technique, and physique (like Phelps' paddle-like hands).

When I want to win a foot race, I pick out the lightest, best-fitting shoes I can, rather than Lugz or Dr. Martens. There are no bans on light-weight running shoes that I know of, and they increase my speed noticeably too. (Okay, so maybe it's not the best comparison, but you get what I mean.)

RE: Money money money!
By surt on 7/2/2009 7:50:45 PM , Rating: 2
And the drugs. Don't forget about the drugs they do to build muscle, and paddle-like hands.

RE: Money money money!
By Keeir on 7/2/2009 5:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, all that money aside, we should really just have swimmers do it old fashioned Greek style, in nude.

Although far less entertaining, I think it would be fairly easy to just set a standard swimsuit for a particular contest (announced 6 months ahead of time). They could rotate the choice or FINA sells to the highest bidder and distrubutes the sponsership money.

RE: Money money money!
By GeorgeOu on 7/3/2009 5:43:20 AM , Rating: 2
That's a woman in the photo.

Is this even fair ?
By chick0n on 7/2/2009 12:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
I mean, Mark Spitz did his record WITHOUT all these shit. Michael is fast, but seriously, without all these "wonderful" technology stuff. Do you think he can archive all these records ?

IMO, I think they should BAN all these swimsuits, or EVERYBODY should get 1. Just to make it a fair game.

These fuxking suits cost couple K each. and u can only wear it couple of times before its all stretch up and unusable.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By thartist on 7/2/2009 12:46:59 PM , Rating: 2
In my opinion, all athletes should participate in the same conditions. Not necessarily exact same but differences that can change the results should not be allowed.

But just like everything else this days; it's not about whatever it is, it's about money.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By grandpope on 7/2/2009 3:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
This sort of improvement is just like the gloves NFL WRs wear. Those things are like flypaper! The number of leaping one-handed catches you see these days is absurd.

It boils down to tradition v. progression. Who is to say that something new is acceptable or not? At which point do you draw the line.

Also coming to bear is the question of whether the advancement is even harmful or not. I'd like to postulate that wearing cups in soccer and football is detrimental to the sports because the players do things they would not normally do if their boys were in danger of being pancaked.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By rcc on 7/2/2009 3:21:43 PM , Rating: 2
It all depends on whether you think the Olympics are about the atheletes, or the gear.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By Lexda on 7/2/2009 1:10:46 PM , Rating: 3
In short, no, it's not fair. This makes the sport more about money than pure talent. Granted, money isn't such an issue at the top levels (I've never heard of an Olympian not being able to afford a suit), but in high school and college athletics, it's a huge issue. My home town, for example, is a smallish school district, without much money to spend on sports that don't have balls (football, basketball, baseball, etc.). However, we always swam against the Madison area schools (Wisconsin, fyi), and they all had rich parents who were more than willing to spend an extra $1000 for a second drop in the 500. Without exception, the rich kids schools all were decked out in the expensive stuff, while smaller teams such as my own were operating a hand-me-down system, using 5 year old fastskins...

In fairness though, Phelps almost certainly would have had the same results without the suit. Take the suit away from everybody, and everybody gains time, not just Phelps. And heck, contrary to what the article says, he didn't wear the full LZR racer in all his races; he only wore leggings in the fly.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By Lexda on 7/2/2009 1:13:51 PM , Rating: 2
Whoops, my bad, just reread and saw it didn't assert Phelps wore it in all 8; it said in seven.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By chick0n on 7/2/2009 1:52:43 PM , Rating: 1
He is fast, but Im dare to say that without the suit, no way he can get beat them.

I used to be a fan of swiming contest. but after all these technological stuff came out. not anymore.

cuz now its not about talent. its about money.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By mircea on 7/3/2009 3:25:40 AM , Rating: 4
I've never heard of an Olympian not being able to afford a suit

You clearly have no clue of how most countries compete in the Olympics. Eastern European countries for example have small training bases for each type of sport and they are mostly Government sponsored. That means paying for the coaches and utilities. Most athletes have to find their own sponsors and at the end they get bonuses if they get medals at the Olympics (insignificant as values - up to $2000). Now tell me how can they afford super suits on this money. In Romania we have lots of Gold medalists working normal jobs to afford to pay for normal things like food, utilities, a better car.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By SublimeSimplicity on 7/2/2009 2:35:21 PM , Rating: 3
I was unaware that this suit gave Phelps his mutant like hand and foot size, along with his abnormally large wingspan to body length and large lung capacity. Did the suit also give him the ridiculous ankle flexibility that allows him to kick more efficiently than any other human?

I am going to let you in on a secret though. The suit is able to manipulate space and time. Spitz actually also won 8 gold medals, but the LZR removed the 50m freestyle from the 1972 Olympics.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By Mint on 7/2/2009 4:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
Spitz didn't have opponents with advanced suits either.

Nobody is comparing Phelps' times with Spitz'. They're comparing the medal count, which is about excelling over others under the same conditions.

Maybe records should have been done without a swimsuit (a bigger travesty, IMO, are the ridiculous shirts used in bench press, but that's another story), but it way too late for that. All we can do is try to keep things from getting out of hand (e.g. trapped bubbles) , which FINA is doing.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By GeorgeOu on 7/3/2009 5:51:30 AM , Rating: 2
Looking at Spitz's times, I think he won't even make the Olympic team today even if you time warped his prime body into the 2008 Olympics and gave him the most advanced suit in the world. Now maybe if Spitz was cloned and born in modern times and given modern training, he may be competitive again or even dominate. However, the pool (pun intended) of candidates may have improved today.

RE: Is this even fair ?
By otispunkmeyer on 7/4/2009 6:28:05 PM , Rating: 2
they arent a couple of K each at all

they are expensive, but not that expensive and anyone on sponsorship which is most of the top flight anyway get em free.

for reference the LZR body suit is about £350 all in.... maybe more if you get it tailored to your exact body shape

Simple solution. Everyone swims naked.
By namechamps on 7/2/2009 1:51:07 PM , Rating: 3
Simple solution. Everyone swims naked.

RE: Simple solution. Everyone swims naked.
By Belard on 7/3/2009 12:02:54 AM , Rating: 2

The ratings will go pretty high. The legit (non sexual) of looking at naked people. Women and men can enjoy the races ;)

By aguilpa1 on 7/9/2009 11:10:01 AM , Rating: 2
yea, there is no one that is "legit", the whole world is sexual but that would fix it, other than maybe covering up the dangly parts in males because those would cause some drag.

RE: Hydronomic...
RE: Hydronomic...
By PlasmaBomb on 7/2/2009 2:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
I should have quoted what I was referring to -

It allows for higher oxygen flow to the muscles and holds the body in a more hydronomic position.

Hydronomic seems to be just a brand name...
(which your link confirms)

By trajan on 7/2/2009 2:55:24 PM , Rating: 3
It allows for higher oxygen flow to the muscles

I enjoyed this article but I hope I'm not the only one who raised eyebrows at the above. Last time I checked, humans--like other mammals--breathe through our lungs and not our skin (or skinsuits).

I wanted to give the article the benefit of the doubt--maybe it just means that the swimsuit restricts breathing less, thereby increasing oxygen to the muscles? But the best I can tell is that the whole portion of the article that I quoted from was pulled from the wikipedia page. And the wikipedia page in turn cites to an article that doesn't mention anything about oxygen.

Good article, but (x1 for bad science, x1 for bad source checking) lazy reporting!

By Lexda on 7/2/2009 4:55:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not positive about all the science behind it, but I know that if a suit is too constricting, your muscles and blood vessels are constricted, and therefore, semi-deprived of oxygen. It's conceivable that this suit achieves the same close fit as others, while being less constricting of your muscles.

Alain Bernard...
By Cobra Commander on 7/2/2009 12:36:53 PM , Rating: 2 a cock.

RE: Alain Bernard...
By conorvansmack on 7/2/2009 1:56:50 PM , Rating: 2

Get ready to lose again Frenchie!

soaped spears..
By Silver2k7 on 7/3/2009 4:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
Isnt this kind of like when soaped spears was banned..
then you could add small fins to spears also to throw longer etc..

these swimsuits that takes what 30 min to put on??
it doesnt seem quite right..

RE: soaped spears..
By zagood on 7/5/2009 12:49:58 PM , Rating: 2
So, what, they're engineering the javelin to complement Lamar Latrell's limp-wristed throwing style?

What's next, nano suit?
By KIAman on 7/2/2009 1:16:15 PM , Rating: 2
The new suit made of nano scales oscillate the nano fins in the direction of flow, effectively creating propulsion...

Swimming is defined by...
By HotFoot on 7/2/2009 5:23:08 PM , Rating: 2
what's motivating the motion, in my opinion. We have events categorised by the type of stroke used, not the swimwear.

Really, I think innovations in swimwear should be allowed how many other Olympic sports require equipment? I think of skiing, for example, or bike racing. Skis and bicycles today are drastically different than they were 50 years ago - even 20 years ago. The point is all teams eventually catch up on technology and we're back to pitting human capability against human capability - just the line of the best and fastest is always moving forwards.

I just think there doesn't need to be extra rules and regulations.

Or maybe, go ahead with all the regulations on the existing events, but how about we add an event where all bets are off, and it's just the fastest human wearing whatever they want (even flippers) to go 500 metres?

By Netscorer on 7/2/2009 5:29:43 PM , Rating: 2
"It does take away from some things," Phelps said. "A lot of swimmers are going to put up a lot of great times this summer, and a lot of it is going to be headlined by the suits. I just think it's not fair to other athletes and the athletes out there performing."

I don't remember Phelps complaining about his suit during the last year Olympics when he had advantage over most of his main competitors. I'm not saying he would not win some gold medals, but he owns a lot to his Speedo swimsuit for the record 8 gold medals.

What's the point?
By taber on 7/2/2009 10:06:04 PM , Rating: 2
Remember when the Olympic competitors were amateurs? Me neither. Until there they make American football an Olympic sport, there's not much I care to watch.

The cost
By dotdotperiod on 7/3/2009 8:16:54 AM , Rating: 2
All tech asside, it is really fair to have $300+ swimm suit that you can wear 2-3 times dominate the sport? How far does it go? I am talking about your local swim teams would now have to compete with others wearing these whilst others cannot afford this luxury item. Yes I agree that there are advances in textiles that help help all sports but when you take the competivness out of it because of cost, it ruins it.

By omgwtf8888 on 7/9/2009 10:33:03 AM , Rating: 2
The committee should pick out the best equipment available and make it standard issue for all participants. This way all the athletes compete on level ground (err.. water) the fans seeking ever faster times are satisfied. But I think we really need to just figure out how to cross breed a human and shark to make the ultimate swimmer. Just make sure he is well fed before the meets.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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