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The LZR Racer in Action.  (Source: Speedo)
Calls heard for a ban as world records are shattered.

The 2008 Olympics have barely begun, and already eight records in swimming have tumbled. Some are not just falling, but being broken by improbable margins. In the men's 4x100m relay, for instance, the record was smashed by an astounding four seconds. In April, at the world championships in Manchester England, eight more records were broken.

All these record-breaking swimmers had one thing in common. They were wearing Speedo's new swimsuit, the "Fastskin" LZR Racer.

The LZR Racer breathes high tech. Speedo designed the suit with input from NASA, ran tests on more than 100 different fabrics, and conducted body scans of world-class swimmers. The ultra-thin suit material repels water, reduces muscle oscillations, and lowers hydrodynamic drag by up to 10%. The individual panels are ultrasonically welded together, rather than stitched. Speedo even claims it increases a swimmer's oxygen efficiency. It can take 30 minutes for a swimmer to struggle into it and, once on, shoehorns the body into a more aerodynamic shape.

The first time the suit was put on in an official meet, three world records were broken.

Many would say Speedo's breakthrough product has an undeniable benefit. But it also has its detractors. It is rumored to add buoyancy, something which would break competitive rules. It's also very expensive -- $500 apiece, and professional swimmers must replace it every 10th swim.

Worse, many teams and individual swimmers have contractual obligations which bar them from wearing the Racer. According to some, this gives an unfair competitive advantage. Alberto Castagnetti, coach of the Italian swim team -- which wears a rival brand -- calls the suit "technological doping". Australian coach Forbes Carlisle has written an open letter calling for it to be banned outright.

Speedo VP Stuart Isaac says technological progress aiding to break records is a natural process. "That’s the nature of sport, whether it’s tennis rackets or golf clubs or new running shoes or the composition of running tracks".

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, who was wearing the LZR Racer today when she broke the world record in the women's 100-meter backstroke, says swimming must keep up with technology. "It's a great suit. For me, putting the suit on, mentally, it's time to go fast". Michael Phelps, who also wears the suit, stands to win a cool $1 million from Speedo if he breaks the Olympic record of seven gold medals in swimming. He calls the suit a "rocket".

Advances in training and new swimming pool designs are also aiding the quest to break records. But none of these bears the controversy of Speedo's revolutionary baby. The suit was approved by FINA, the international body governing swimming, which says claims about added buoyancy are "unproven".  Heeding calls to ban the suit now would be considered arbitrary. Allowing other racers to wear the suit despite endorsement contracts would require other manufacturers to tacitly admit their products are inferior.

Certainly no decision will be made until after the 2008 Olympics end.  Until then, expect to see those on the podium wearing the familiar shark-colored swimsuit.

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Deal with it
By Master Kenobi on 8/12/2008 8:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
Yea, people are going to whine, but how is this any different from other fields? They make new bikes every year that are lighter, stronger, and more aerodynamic so that the riders have an edge. Swimming is no different folks.

RE: Deal with it
By Sulphademus on 8/12/2008 8:32:12 AM , Rating: 4
Well Im going to sue to prevent new Intel chips from coming out because I am contractually obligated to buy Phenom B2's and thats an unfair advantage others have against me in my quest to build the worlds fastest computer.

RE: Deal with it
By omnicronx on 8/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Deal with it
By Sulphademus on 8/12/2008 11:35:19 AM , Rating: 2
Actually I was referring to "Worse, many teams and individual swimmers have contractual obligations which bar them from wearing the Racer. According to some, this gives an unfair competitive advantage. Alberto Castagnetti, coach of the Italian swim team -- which wears a rival brand -- calls the suit "technological doping"." as people having contracts to NOT wear Speedo gear.

And this is a geek site: Intel vs AMD is always relevant.

RE: Deal with it
By DanoruX on 8/18/2008 2:43:13 PM , Rating: 3
It's their own fault for signing on to the wrong gear manufacturer.

RE: Deal with it
By JustTom on 8/12/2008 11:49:40 AM , Rating: 2
but it looks like speedo is being pretty exclusive in who they are offering contracts too.

Do you have any evidence of this?

RE: Deal with it
By BladeVenom on 8/12/2008 2:05:20 PM , Rating: 5
This is different because swimming is suppose to be an equipmentless sport. Might as well allow using fins if performance enhancing body suits are allowed.

RE: Deal with it
By lightfoot on 8/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Deal with it
By Souka on 8/12/2008 6:28:33 PM , Rating: 3
They didn't have swimming "like the greeks did in ancient times"...nor most sports we do today...

also... $500 for a suit that lasts 10 races is CHEAP...very cheap...when added to the other costs a competitor must shell out on a regular basis.

My $.02

RE: Deal with it
By mindless1 on 8/18/2008 4:01:51 AM , Rating: 2
Where to draw the line is easy, either everyone gets to wear it if they want to, or nobody does. If it's only an excuse then there should be no problem with everyone or no one having it.

RE: Deal with it
By akosixiv on 8/18/2008 3:18:12 AM , Rating: 3
yes.. I say we let them swim in the nude.

then it would really be a battles of the bodies.

RE: Deal with it
By mezman on 8/12/2008 4:50:18 PM , Rating: 2
Of course not. Conspiracy theorists, unite!

RE: Deal with it
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 1:24:32 PM , Rating: 2
Can't be too "exclusive" (other than needing the $500 each). I know our local company Nike has allowed some of their contract swimmers to use the Speedo suits. They want their swimmers to win.

P.S. - The suit being micro-thin and providing buoyancy seems contradictory.

P.P.S. - It was reported in the pre-Olympics press that the Chinese pool was built for speed and world records were expected to be broken in it with help from the pool itself (I have no idea what makes it so, I'm just passing on what I've read).

RE: Deal with it
By masher2 on 8/12/2008 1:41:13 PM , Rating: 4
The pool is deeper than normal (3m rather than 2) and wider, with a free lane on each side. This reduces wave reflections and is supposed to aid the swimmers.

Still, many world records are being broken in older pools with these suits. Whether their effect is real or simply psychological remains to be seen.

RE: Deal with it
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 5:34:25 PM , Rating: 3
Phelps has been breaking world records without it too (unless he has the pants-only version).

RE: Deal with it
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 5:40:56 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - To the best of my recollection, world records being broken semi-often at the Olympics isn't unusual. It's kind of a biggie event.

RE: Deal with it
By porkpie on 8/12/2008 8:06:02 PM , Rating: 4
Phelps wears the suit, he just pulls the straps down to his waist when he's not in the water.

And IIRC this suit was first worn at some meet in Iowa. And they broke a world record there too.

RE: Deal with it
By phattyboombatty on 8/12/2008 2:56:55 PM , Rating: 2
I saw a Chinese swimmer wearing one of these suits, but the Speedo logo on the chest was covered up by a piece of tape. I wonder if this had anything to do with an exclusive contract with another brand?

RE: Deal with it
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 5:36:12 PM , Rating: 5
Or it's a Chinese grey-market clone one and it really says "Spedo" under the tape. :-)

RE: Deal with it
By AnnoyedGrunt on 8/13/2008 1:05:38 AM , Rating: 3
I saw that too. Maybe it said "Speedon't"

RE: Deal with it
By Alias1431 on 8/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: Deal with it
By djkrypplephite on 8/12/2008 8:34:02 AM , Rating: 5
I'd also like to point out that Michael Phelps was still dominant in many of his events in 2004, and he got better in 2008, so this is essentially where the whiners turn when they've got nothing left, because all of these results were just kind of expected anyway.

RE: Deal with it
By ksherman on 8/12/2008 8:53:24 AM , Rating: 4
Also, in at least his first race, Phelps didn't even wear the suit, and STILL beat the record (which was also his record...). BTW, that guy is nuts.

RE: Deal with it
By Suomynona on 8/12/2008 9:21:46 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, I haven't seen him wearing it at all, unless there's a pants-only version.

RE: Deal with it
By eybear on 8/12/2008 9:45:07 AM , Rating: 2
He did, I believe, where the suit in his second and third finals races. He did not use it in the 400IM.

RE: Deal with it
By Cobra Commander on 8/12/2008 9:53:46 AM , Rating: 2
I could be wrong but I think you're wrong about that.

RE: Deal with it
By othercents on 8/12/2008 10:24:37 AM , Rating: 2
Phelps didn't use the suit for the 400IM finals, but did use it for the 4x100m freestyle (as did the rest of the team) and the 200m freestyle. Keep in mind that the suit the Americans are wearing looks like an American flag.


RE: Deal with it
By eybear on 8/12/2008 10:26:25 AM , Rating: 4
Here is a photo of him after the 400 relay. Notice the shoulder straps hanging around his waist:

And here after he has won the 200 free:

RE: Deal with it
By drebo on 8/12/2008 10:35:48 AM , Rating: 2
The only race I saw him wear it in was the 4x100 Freestyle Relay.

His individual races, he only wears pants.

RE: Deal with it
By lightfoot on 8/12/2008 2:58:38 PM , Rating: 4
Also remember that the 4x100M Freestyle Relay had the record shattered not by one team but by five teams! Were all five teams wearing the Speedo suits?

If they were, did any one team really have an unfair advantage over the other teams?

If they were not, doesn't that imply that maybe it wasn't just the suit that broke the record?

RE: Deal with it
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 5:44:01 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, shoot if I wore one of those suits, I'd easily break the Olympic record (100 meter freestyle in only 3 hours 27 minutes!). Might have something else to do with it I suspect.

RE: Deal with it
By an0dize on 8/12/2008 9:21:57 AM , Rating: 2
Phelps doesn't even wear a full suit. His upper body is completely exposed. This is just ridiculous... And yeah you're locked in with an inferior brand... Sucks to be you. Regardless, like others have said; this is a natural progression of sports equipment.

RE: Deal with it
By Hive on 8/12/2008 9:39:20 AM , Rating: 2
Well, since according to the article you'd have to shell out another $500 every 10th swim, I'd understand if Phelps would save his use of it only for when he actually needs it, like finals. Though if we wins those 8 gold medals, he could simply buy 2000 of those suits. :P

RE: Deal with it
By mindless1 on 8/18/2008 4:07:06 AM , Rating: 2
Except it's not supposed to be about who has the better suppliers or enhancements, it's supposed to be which athlete is the better one with each given as fair a chance as possible. Drugs are an enhancement, would they be ok?

RE: Deal with it
By a123456 on 8/12/2008 11:43:27 AM , Rating: 2
It's the swimmer much more so than the suit. Phelps did get 6 golds before in 2004 before the suit. Korea's Taehwan Park won the 400 free, got 2nd in the 200 free behind Phelps (ahead of others with the suit) and Park doesn't look like he has the full suit.

More so than anything it looks like the Water Cube arena in China is a really fast pool. Maybe they did better damping of the waves and other factors that make a fast pool. Of course if the 2012 London pool is "slow," lots of people are going to be disappointed.

RE: Deal with it
By AnnihilatorX on 8/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Deal with it
By Master Kenobi on 8/12/2008 8:55:19 AM , Rating: 4
Hmmm, don't be a fool and sign exclusive contracts? Brilliant!

RE: Deal with it
By FITCamaro on 8/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Deal with it
By SpaceRanger on 8/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Deal with it
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 11:14:05 AM , Rating: 2
My comment was sarcastic.

RE: Deal with it
By AnnihilatorX on 8/12/2008 1:45:18 PM , Rating: 3
You guys are misreading my comment. Why was mine being rate down anyway?

If Speedo offers exclusive contracts to only a certain teams, this is an unfair practice. When you sells certain advanced tool to a competitive sport that offers significant advantage, and offers only to a certain teams; yes Speedo makes more money, but it jeopardize the fairness of that sport in question.

This unfairness does not occur in say tennis since there are many choices of carbon fibre rackets available from different manufactures and any tennis players from any teams can freely choose what they are after that suit their needs. Whether a tennis player lose out in a particular sport may be due to his tennis racket is inferior, but he's had freedom in choosing the racket so it was the tennis player's responsibility.

With exclusive contracts however, like above, only certain swimmers can have access to such a suit giving great advantage, the sport is no longer fair.

RE: Deal with it
By lightfoot on 8/12/2008 2:40:31 PM , Rating: 3
The "exclusive contracts" that you speak of are nothing of the sort; they are just sponsorships. Speedo is not offering exclusive contracts, they are simply sponsoring athletes. If they sponsor you they expect you to use their products - they usually even give you the product. It is not Speedo's fault that Nike wants the athletes that they sponsor to wear Nike swimsuits. Any athlete could use Speedo's suit but this could risk offending their sponsor.

The bottom line is that if you don't like your sponsor's product, find a new sponsor. Don't take their money and then complain how their product is inferior.

RE: Deal with it
By mvpx02 on 8/12/2008 7:29:18 PM , Rating: 3
Swimmers are not limited to what suit they can access. Pretty much any swimmer can walk into a nice sports store and buy one of these suits if they have $500. The problem is the swimmers who have signed contracts with other companies (i.e. Nike, etc) that forbid them from wearing anybody else's suit. They are now forced to compete in a product they feel is inferior.

While its easy to say "well they shouldn't have signed the contract", its not always their choice. Sometimes entire programs sign the contract, and all their athletes are forced to deal with it.

Remember the big deal that was made back in 1992 when the USA Dream Team was sponsered by Reebok but several members of the team were sponsered by Nike? I know there was a huge fuss over things like team pictures because Reebok didn't want anybody in the photos to be wearing Nike shoes.... can't remember how it was ever settled.

RE: Deal with it
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 8:55:33 AM , Rating: 2
Using Kenobi's example, how is this any different than bikers using a certain kind of bike? Some are obligated due to contracts to use a certain kind of bike. Does this make it unfair then if another manufacturer produces a superior bike?

Or to use a different example, is it fair in auto racing that some teams have more money than others and can afford the best parts and equipment? Should everyone have to drive the same exact car down to the engine, transmission, and gear ratio? No. It's the differences in equipment that make sports what it is.

Yes equipment can give an advantage. But that's why you strive to have the best. It's a competition like anything else. You come prepared or your go home.

RE: Deal with it
By mamisano on 8/12/2008 11:04:46 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, in the MotoPG series, a lot goes into what tire manufacturer you pick. Michelin had been dominant for many years and Valentino Rossi won many championships on them. Last year, Casey Stoner blew away the competition on Bridgestones and many Michelin riders complained, including Valentino. This year, Valentino went with the Bridgstones which again are a better tire. His team mate, on the same exact bike still runs the Michelins.

RE: Deal with it
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 11:16:25 AM , Rating: 2
You realize you're agreeing with me right? Your choices in equipment can affect whether or not you win.

RE: Deal with it
By AnnihilatorX on 8/12/2008 1:56:37 PM , Rating: 3
Be careful though. Motor sports are different in competition principle to conventional sports.
In motor sports, the performance of the vehicle and the performance of the drivers are both the subject of the contest.

In conventional sports like tennis, golf, football, it is not perceived that the equipment performance is a subject of contest, since the entrants does not or can not manufacture or tune their equipments and have not much freedom in doing so by nature, or restricted by physical constraints.

In motor sports, it is accepted that as part of the participating entrant team, the team are required manufacture and maintain their vehicles abided only by loose set of specification (e.g bhp limit). In another words, there is no bespoke vehicles, or it is expected that bespoke vehicles are not good enough and you are expected to tune them.

Whereas in conventional sports, there are many discrete equipment options and player can freely choose their bespoke equipment. By discrete equipment options I mean there are many varieties of performance but within each same model of equipment from same manufacturer, they have the same performance.

RE: Deal with it
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 4:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about? In tennis, professional players get custom made rackets tuned to the fit of their hand and play style. Players strive to find the manufacturer that makes a racket that's made of the lightest materials to make their rackets easier to swing. Same with golf clubs.

Football not so much but I believe the NFL tells them what pads they have to use. But cleats are made for the player and they try to design lighter ones so players can run faster.

RE: Deal with it
By mindless1 on 8/18/2008 4:13:08 AM , Rating: 2
and yet, there are rules and limitations on what they can pick, such rules not always being made until someone did something introducing a perceived unfairness that didn't need to exist. Perhaps since there was no rule against it then the records and medals should stand but the issue should be examined more closely before any further events where everyone doesn't have equal access to the suits. It's supposed to be about whether the individual or team is the best, not whether they're like batman with the best toys.

RE: Deal with it
By mvpx02 on 8/12/2008 7:34:43 PM , Rating: 2
Golfers choose endorsement deals based on equipment all the time. Sure some go for the company who pays the best, but most of them at least consider the quality of the product they are agreeing to play.

Some golfers even have "outs" in their contracts where the sponser agrees to let them play with other products if the golfer feels the sponser has not kept up with the development/quality curve.

I believe Tiger Woods has (or at least had) an option like this in his contract with Nike.

RE: Deal with it
By aeroxander on 8/12/2008 3:06:23 PM , Rating: 1
What needs to happen is you have consistent specifications for bikes/bats/swim suits/shoes etc. In auto racing there are tolerances to what the car is or is not allowed.

However comparing the olympics to regular sports (for lack of a better term) is not a good comparison. Non-olympic sports are driven by money. They olympics is supposed to be about the athlete, not the technology they use.

Have them all wear a speedo within guidelines, has to be made of this material fit no higher, no lower etc, etc.

I don't disagree with the suit because the governing body of the olympics have not set any guidelines, however I believe that Olympic sports should be about the athlete. Does speedo get a gold medal for most technically advanced swimsuit?

RE: Deal with it
By JustTom on 8/12/2008 4:01:14 PM , Rating: 2
I don't disagree with the suit because the governing body of the olympics have not set any guidelines

Actually there are guidelines, and this suit follows them.

RE: Deal with it
By piroroadkill on 8/12/2008 8:57:30 AM , Rating: 2
I completely agree

RE: Deal with it
By omnicronx on 8/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: Deal with it
By michal1980 on 8/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Deal with it
By Targon on 8/13/2008 6:36:44 AM , Rating: 2
I expect that the country each person represents is paying the travel expenses of going to the games. It's a big deal for most countries to have people there representing THEM, so they are willing to pay the money. So from that point of view, the travel costs are not an issue.

Another thing to consider is how the swim program is run from the country of the competitor as well. If swimming is a big deal for that country, then things like the costs of the swim suits will be covered as well, so the individual also doesn't need to pay to get the best equipment.

RE: Deal with it
By DeepBlue1975 on 8/12/2008 11:42:54 AM , Rating: 2
Quite true.

And not only that, this should be seen as a challenge to overcome from other swimsuit makers, not as a bad thing.
If you don't want swimmers to benefit from technology at all, make them all swim naked. I'll be watching the female swimmers very closely in that case :)

Seriously, this is quite stupid as technology has accompanied humans from the moment the first men out there learned how to artificially start a fire and build primitive hammers and arrows.

Technology should never be banned when it has no destructive effects on anyone or anything.

RE: Deal with it
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 12:37:33 PM , Rating: 2
Technology shouldn't be banned period.

Even arrows had a pretty destructive effect on people for a few thousand years.

RE: Deal with it
By mindless1 on 8/18/2008 4:16:53 AM , Rating: 2
except that it does have a destructive effect when the goal was a fair olympic race or setting a record compared against prior records where people didn't have this advantage.

It's not a geek tech race, it's a human olympic event. There's nothing wrong with using tech to mankind's advantage in general but how humane would it be today if we decided some people don't get to have a fire, have to eat everything raw?

RE: Deal with it
By Polynikes on 8/12/2008 12:39:02 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it is. Swimming is a sport that requires no equipment to do, bicycling is. Hence a necessary piece of equipment would of course get upgrades, just as running shoes have over the years.

We don't watch the Olympics, or any competitive sport, to see whose tech wins it, it's solely about the physical abilities of the athletes. If you think otherwise, you're missing the point. (Perhaps you'd like to see a robot Olympics in coming years?) This is why I think these suits are out of place in swimming.

I mean, if you can argue that they're OK, how can you argue that in 20 years when a pole vaulter puts on new shoes with miniature rockets that its NOT OK?

What I'm saying is, there have to be guidelines for equipment like swim suits and running shoes. A shoe shouldn't have springs in them, but they can offer greater traction with different cleat designs. A swim suit should not be adding buoyancy (I know this may not be the case, but if it is it's wrong). And if one equipment upgrade allows so many records to be broken immediately upon adoption, something is wrong. Of course, anyone can wear the suits, eventually everyone will or the competitive edge will be gone, but swimming is not about how good a suit you have, it's about physical abilities. I think a level playing ground is important, and in a sport that is so purely about physical abilities, (as opposed to cycling which has always had the technological element) tech does not belong.

At the very least there should be two swimming classes, "natural" and "equipment-assisted." It's kind of like allowing nitrous in one class of race car and not allowing it in another, or separating naturally aspirated cars from those with forced induction.

Just so it's clear, I'm not a swimmer, nor a swimming fan, and to be honest I haven't paid a lot of attention to the Olympics in general, thus far. This is not about who's winning and who's not, it's about the nature of competitive, purely physical sports.

RE: Deal with it
By Polynikes on 8/12/2008 12:47:14 PM , Rating: 2
Also, how far should the tech be allowed to go? Should the swimmers be allowed to wear a piece of head gear that goes down to their shoulders to make them more streamlined like a submarine? At what point does the physical competition lose out to technology?

If that new neural mouse thing that was shown off a while back indeed ends up making reaction times better, should it be allowed in competitive gaming? Should everyone be forced to use the device to remain competitive? Whereas before, competitive gaming was about how quickly a person's reaction time was between brain and fingers, it would then be changed into a different fundamental measure of reaction and skill? So instead of how fast you can move a mouse, it becomes a matter of how fast you can move your eyes? That would completely change the games' nature. I would think there would have to be different classes, because the change would be so drastic.

RE: Deal with it
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 1:28:13 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it is. Swimming is a sport that requires no equipment to do, bicycling is. Hence a necessary piece of equipment would of course get upgrades, just as running shoes have over the years.

Although the original Olympics may very likely have had nude swimming events, since it's been on TV I think clothing equipment has been a part of it.

RE: Deal with it
By Polynikes on 8/12/2008 2:19:23 PM , Rating: 2
But not because it's a necessary part of the sport. They only wear suits for "decency." A bike is necessary for cycling, skis for skiing. You see my point?

RE: Deal with it
By rtrski on 8/12/2008 3:01:07 PM , Rating: 2
Swimming as currently defined by the Olympic sport standards requires a pool. As has already been established, different gutter designs influence the interference in the end lanes, and effect the 'speed' of the pool. Swimmers in center lanes always have an advantage even with the 'best' gutter designs.

Sorry, but that right there obviates your argument that it's "all about the athlete" and nothing else.

Granted they could do a best-of-several-heats average to decide the winner of the finals, with each swimmer getting the opportunity to swim in each lane. In the same way,eventually suit 'technology' will percolate out to being available to all and re-level this particular tiny nitpicking difference.

There are standards regarding garb, caps, even goggles, and technology will always briefly come up with new features which fall into a subjectively gray zone of the 'standards' enforce for each sport, just as the legal/societal implications of techonology always lag the technology itself (remember all the lawsuits about what to do with fertilized embryos after deaths, divorces, etc?).

Next year the standards might be detailed further to either allow or exclude these suits or some technological feature thereof specifically. Until then, they're defensibly legal, and all the whinging is just that. Saying 'not everyone had access to them' is the same as whinging that not everyone had the same training facilities, same level of skill in trainers, same lifelong nutrition, same genetic makeup....where does it stop??

RE: Deal with it
By mindless1 on 8/18/2008 4:24:07 AM , Rating: 2
It is all about the athletes as much as possible, and nothing else but that which is reasonably required from a practical standpoint or tradition. That is the goal even if imperfect in practice. Being imperfect in practice is not an excuse to make things worse rather than to strive towards making them better. There is no such requirement or tradition that some be allowed to have special swimsuits that appear to improve performance while others don't have the option to do the same.

Where it stops is making the race itself as fair as possible, who is the best person at that moment in time.

RE: Deal with it
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 5:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
I see you point, but I don't think your point matters other than in providing an additional justification as to why the clothing technology is there to affect the results. And as others (and myself) have pointed out in this thread, the pool design apparently makes a big difference as well and to which lane one is in (the center lanes being "faster") -- and the water is considered mandatory for swimming. Even with your examples of say, skis -- AFAIK they're not all required to use the same standard skis all with a standard "tune" and of a standard length. And the skiiers aren't nude either.

Technology may extend to the training devices used, how well one's bed technology provides REM sleep to the competitor. Swimming technology advancements not visible.

Some of the swimmers (such as Phelps) seem to be using an iPod (or similar) up until the last moment (even with the audience intro's Phelps' still has one in an ear). Technology to help the psyche and indirectly the swimmer's performance. In the olden days, the rich ones may have had a private "assistant" who sang in their ear, who knows?

The thing that surprises me is that I've noted that some of the women swimmers have earrings that are not covered by the rubber-looking head mask thing. Seems like that would increase water resistance ever so slightly.


RE: Deal with it
By Fritzr on 8/12/2008 8:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
Funny you should use pole vaulting as your example. As the tech has gone from wooden poles to today's hi-tech carbon fiber poles the records have fallen with each change in performance of the poles used. The training has improved also and it still requires a pole vaulter to be able to actually use the equipment effectively.

For strict comparison of the records from the early games to the present day we should require all vaulters to use 1880 tech running shoes, wood poles from the same period and restrict training to what was known then. With these restrictions we can compare records fairly.

Not likely to happen though :)

In all sports where equipment is required or training methods affect the performance we will see improvements in performance measurements as the equipment and training available to the athlete improve.

Swimming has the capability of being an equipment free sport. All that is needed is to define the exact measurements of a standard pool and ban swim suits altogether. After all the design of the pool affects the performance of the swimmers and The design of a swimsuit and the fabric used also affect the performance of the swimmer.

As soon as the competitors either develop an equivalent suit or license the Speedo suit they will stop complaining and start promoting the "major advance" in performance :P

Auto racing does have a "level playing field" competition to test relative driving/pit crew performance. The organizer fields 20 or so identical cars and the teams supply the people and support equipment. They are not permitted to alter the car in any manner.

Tennis and golf also have limits on what kind of performance enhancing equipment can be used in competition. There is much better tech available to the non-competition player than is allowed in competition.

Another example is America Cup boat racing. There is a very strict definition of what an America Cup racing boat is and the designers have been very ingenious in designing increasingly faster boats that meet those requirements. Each time someone has come up with a major improvement there has been grumbling about unfair advantage followed by usage of the improvement or a different design change offering even better performance :P

RE: Deal with it
By Spacecomber on 8/12/2008 8:35:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, people are going to whine, but how is this any different from other fields? They make new bikes every year that are lighter, stronger, and more aerodynamic so that the riders have an edge. Swimming is no different folks.

Actually, this is an interesting sport to use as an analogy, because the UCI has adopted quite a few rules limiting how much a racer's bike can be modified from the traditional configuration, and they have a minimum weight that a bike cannot go below.

In other words there is a lot that technically could be done to make bicycles faster and lighter, but the rules don't allow it.

RE: Deal with it
By winejeeves on 8/13/2008 1:54:53 AM , Rating: 2
This reminds me of an earlier sport clothing banning in 1996 Spyder created a speed suit for downhill snow skiing that had wires sewn into the cloth that disrupted airflow. They were the only company that had it and because it was such an advantage it was banned from competition.

RE: Deal with it
By DASQ on 8/13/2008 10:34:52 AM , Rating: 2
Absolutely disagree with you. This is just poor reasoning.

You shouldn't be able to afford better performance in the Olympics. Defeats the purpose of this major competitive event. Might as well just allow motor assistance on the Tour de France.

Make all competitors, female and male, wear one type of suit, whether it be some dinky speedo or a full body suit.

maybe if it had little arms
By tastyratz on 8/12/2008 8:35:27 AM , Rating: 2
and was the millipede swimmer edition - but its a swimsuit no more no less. it does not have an additional inspector gadget functionality - its an article of clothing.
Superior materials and construction is evolution. 10% advantage over what? the lady who wants to wear a t-shirt and trunks or generic swimsuit basement edition? I am willing to bet there are larger variances in the other swimsuits that are used.

The olympics are about greatness.

People signed a contract so they want everyone to lower their equipment standards? They shouldn't have signed a contract then. That's like banning the iphone because you have another year left with Verizon.

People are only crying rape because its not the one they are wearing. I'm surprised they haven't rain-xed or pam sprayed the swimmers.

A suit is hardly steroids and the winners are always accused of foul play. This is a 100% human powered sport without any manmade machines.

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By rtrski on 8/12/2008 9:10:36 AM , Rating: 5
I swam competitively up to high school (and my brother went on to do so on scholarship in college)...way back in the dark ages (cough, cough). It was well known then that a good fullbody shave-down and a light coating of baby oil did indeed make a difference, if only psychologically.

Pool gutter designs have changed greatly too (the outside lanes are always the 'slowest' due to wave interaction off the sides of the pool), yet no one whinges when certain pools swim 'faster' than others, and they intentionally stack the leading qualifiers into the middle lanes to give them the best chance based on the preceding trials.

I can believe this suit does make a difference if it's hydrophobic and cuts resistance - the same thing applies with shark skin's roughness or the coating on the outside of a yacht to break the water's surface tension attachment so the yacht is actually riding a thin film of 'bubbles' between the hull and the water - but I find claims of 'buoyancy' a bit far-fetched. How much buoyancy can there be in a millimeter or two of material? If it's compressing the swimmer's flesh into a more ideal shape, that still implies an average density increase or body volume decrease if anything. That's got to more than counteract any 'buoyancy' in a hypothetical tiny little layer of encapsulated air. Its not like this is a neoprene wetsuit for freak's sake.

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By Diesel Donkey on 8/12/2008 10:34:52 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with everything you said except for the part about a body volume decrease due to the compressive nature of the suit. Since the human body is made up of 60%+ water, any actual compression would be difficult to achieve I think. What the suit is able to do, however, is alter the shape of the body so that it is more hydrodynamic. Doesn't sound very comfortable to me!

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 1:30:21 PM , Rating: 1
Lung portion is pretty compressible though, I think.

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By masher2 on 8/12/2008 2:10:27 PM , Rating: 3
Compressing the lung region would hinder breathing. The LZR's compressive corset is actually in the lower back and groin region.

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By rtrski on 8/12/2008 3:07:54 PM , Rating: 2
I actually agree with you; I don't really think density is increasing, I just didn't make my point very clearly. What I was trying to say is that *if* there was any true 'buoyancy' change it would have to be an increase to negative buoyancy, assuming the material is itself an insignificant volume, is skintight (no large bubble of contained air held between suit and skin) and somewhat compressive. There's no way those features can result in reduced density of the suit-and-swimmer 'system' in the water.

Forcing a better slipstream shape, yes.
Generating a surface-tension-breaking microfroth outside the suit (upon which the body is kind of 'floating'?), maybe.

Neither of which equates to the suit providing 'buoyancy' though. The Archimedean principle doesn't include hydrodynamic lift or fluid mechanics effects.

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By rtrski on 8/12/2008 3:18:32 PM , Rating: 2
And at the risk of being a bit facetious, anyone who thinks the human body isn't at least locally compressible has never seen the effects of a sports bra. :)

By foolsgambit11 on 8/16/2008 4:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I can't really understand the buoyancy argument, either. It seems to me it can't be that hard to throw a suit in the water and see if it floats.

I was thinking that the argument would be that it shifted fat around on the body to make specific parts of the body more buoyant or less buoyant, creating a competitive advantage?

Oooh! Maybe they're arguing that it traps air between the suit and the skin, increasing total buoyancy? That could make sense.

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By Alias1431 on 8/12/2008 3:53:12 PM , Rating: 2
"or the coating on the outside of a yacht to break the water's surface tension attachment so the yacht is actually riding a thin film of 'bubbles' between the hull and the water"

Isn't that how ships sink?

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By Donkeyshins on 8/12/2008 5:46:25 PM , Rating: 3
It was well known then that a good fullbody shave-down and a light coating of baby oil did indeed make a difference, if only psychologically.

"Usually you pay double for that kind of action, Cotton."

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By Polynikes on 8/12/2008 12:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
So clothing that increases performance is OK, but drugs and machines are not? What's the difference? Both clothing and machines are an artificial increase in performance outside of the human body's physiology. If you can argue that competitive sports should be about how good of shape a person is in without any physiological help, then how can you argue that allowing a new artificial performance-increasing element, technology, into the equation is any different?

The question is, do you want a pure competition between athletes; not their drugs, not their suits, or not?

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By rtrski on 8/12/2008 3:09:01 PM , Rating: 2
By your logic, sugar should be outlawed. The body without food isn't able to perform as well as the body with it.

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By lightfoot on 8/12/2008 3:28:19 PM , Rating: 2
What specifically about this suit do you think is cheating?

Is it that it's hydrophobic?

Is it the fact that it acts like a girdle?

Is it the fact that it has no stitches?

If there is a property of the suit that is determined to be unfair, then that property should be banned across the board. You can't ban swimwear on a case by case basis just because you want to. There must be a REASON. The IOC found nothing wrong with the suit, it was just made better than the others. Is that really cheating?

The only acceptable solution would be to issue Olympic swimsuits that must be worn by all swimmers, and the design of the suit could never be allowed to change.

RE: maybe if it had little arms
By mindless1 on 8/18/2008 4:33:28 AM , Rating: 2
What about it? That it's intent is to improve performance and others didn't have one. Let everyone have it or no one. Seems pretty easy, if it didn't actually improve performance then it shouldn't be a big deal to those who had to give it up, right?

There are two alternative solutions. One would be supplying same suit, the other would be rules that bar sponsors from influencing what suit an athlete wears and making it manditory that anyone suppling a suit for any athlete must be able to supply a like suit for any other direct competitor who wants one.

First in Line!
By gemsurf on 8/12/2008 10:43:48 AM , Rating: 2
Since it takes so long to get the suits on, I'm headed out to Bejing tonight to help out the US womens team get prepared for their events! :@

RE: First in Line!
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 12:40:30 PM , Rating: 2
Now if any of them were even remotely attractive and/or straight...

RE: First in Line!
By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 1:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that some look like men swimmers, but there are some who are pretty hot as well (and have boyfriends or fiances).

RE: First in Line!
By Spivonious on 8/12/2008 3:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't one of them pose for Playboy?

RE: First in Line!
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 4:39:52 PM , Rating: 1
Beauty is subjective. Personally I don't find extremely thin women pretty. Or overly muscular ones. Most super models to me aren't that attractive. I had to watch America's Next Top Model once when I was dating an ex-gf and the only one I found attractive was the "plus" size model was 5'10" and was a size 10.

RE: First in Line!
By Master Kenobi on 8/12/2008 6:08:42 PM , Rating: 2
For the really thin ladies, I start thinking about poor starving people in third world nations that can't eat enough to put meat on their bones. Not attractive at all, I agree.

RE: First in Line!
By porkpie on 8/12/2008 8:03:33 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I don't find extremely thin women pretty.
All the more for me.

RE: First in Line!
By Spivonious on 8/13/2008 2:53:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah extremely thin women are just gross. I prefer a size 6-8, not too thin, not too thick. I have to have enough to grab hold of, right? ;)

By Visual on 8/12/2008 10:36:16 AM , Rating: 1
These are a couple interesting details about the suit that I hadn't heard about.

It takes 30 minutes to get into the suit, really? Is it like a space suit, hermetically closed, with a helmet and all?
Maybe Speedo's competition will come up with a better suit soon -
Mjolnir Mark VI Powered Assault Armor.

It needs to be dumped after just 10 swims? Why exactly, its 10% advantage degrades to 9.9%? What do they do with the "used up" suits, just throw them away? Can I have one? Or maybe I could just "recycle" a few from the city's trash dumps.

RE: interesting
By an0dize on 8/12/2008 10:48:58 AM , Rating: 2
Bet they would be worth far more than $500 on ebay... Used up or not ;)

RE: interesting
By omnicronx on 8/12/2008 11:04:40 AM , Rating: 2
Why exactly, its 10% advantage degrades to 9.9%?

Ask your girlfriend, wife or significant other what happens when you leave a bra in the dryer after washing... Water can be a killer to any material with elasticity.

RE: interesting
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2008 12:39:23 PM , Rating: 3
All the more reason for them to take it off. :)

And don't you mean the washing mashing, not the dryer? Unless I've got the process backwards...

RE: interesting
By xsilver on 8/12/2008 3:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
Actually i think the problem might not be due to shrinkage but rather durability of the stress areas such as the zip

think of the MTBF as 10 uses, its already happened in competition where the suit breaks when a swimmer suits up. If they have not left enough time to take it off and put another one on they just have to cop it.

It's up to the fans I guess...
By Landiepete on 8/12/2008 10:52:45 AM , Rating: 3
But when the competition between people turns into competition between hardware, sponsorcontracts and business I simply loose interest.

I can no longer determine from the result what the involvement of the person in it is. So I no longer care.

One could argue it is different for inherently mechanical sports like car racing or bobsleighing.

But running, swimming and jumping should be about the athletes, not about mechanical attachments.

Peter R.

RE: It's up to the fans I guess...
By DeepBlue1975 on 8/12/2008 11:48:46 AM , Rating: 2
Optimized sport shoes have been improving over the years, and that never was an issue.

I can understand your perspective, but I can't share it because technology not only is a part of everybody's daily life, it is also a strong drive for improvement and research that generates jobs and helps improve the quality of life in a lot of aspects in the long run.

By Oregonian2 on 8/12/2008 1:32:42 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, especially because I suspect a lot of the tech advantage is psychological .

You're Missing The Point!!!!!
By macgeek on 8/12/2008 5:29:49 PM , Rating: 4
ANY SWIMMER CAN WEAR THIS SPEEDO SUIT!!! All they would have to do is to show up to the race wearing the suit!!!! That's it....plain and simple.

Would they anger their sponsors and lose their endorsements? Yeah, they probably would. And they might have to pay back their sponsors for any benefits received through their contracts. They WOULD NOT , however, have to give back a gold medal because of it, or risk disqualification from their event.

RE: You're Missing The Point!!!!!
By mindless1 on 8/18/2008 4:39:04 AM , Rating: 2
Since to some extent they are career athletes, it would not be reasonable to expect them to dump a sponsor like that, they could end up blacklisted. What if they don't win a medal in that event, but would've next time or been valuable in other areas of the sport or training of future athletes? You don't stab a sponsor in the back just like you don't do it to anyone else without some kind of repercussions.

Nothing wrong with this
By nafhan on 8/12/2008 10:06:24 AM , Rating: 4
I can understand problems people have with the suit. At this level of competition, even a small advantage can make a difference.
That being said, nobody is doing anything wrong here. If there is enough uproar over this, then the olympic committee will come up with a standard on swimsuits.

Symantics here but...
By Calde on 8/14/2008 10:21:52 AM , Rating: 3
It can take 30 minutes for a swimmer to struggle into it and, once on, shoehorns the body into a more aerodynamic shape.

While it's much less known and used, the proper term would be aquadynamic, not aerodynamic.

There is no right answer
By maxl on 8/12/2008 6:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
There is no right answer to whether suits are legitimate or not - it is all gray area, and IOC just needs to draw an absolutely arbitrary, yet very clear, line between what's allowed and what's not. For example, if next year they'll add hand and foot fins to the suits? This is just a tiny step away from what they have done so far, so why not do it? What's next - strapping athletes to torpedoes?

There was the same issue with weightlifting suits many years ago - some went almost as far as embedding hydrolics, and there were many designs of some form of elastic energy-accumulating constructions around major joints. There was a relatively simple solution - a set of very strict regulations on what can be done and what cannot. As simple as that. It is much easier and cheaper to control than doping. would be even better if that could put everybody in the same suit, but this is not possible due to costs and sponsorships etc.

Transparent suits
By hellokeith on 8/12/2008 6:59:31 PM , Rating: 2
In order to better understand the suit's effects, a transparent version needs to be made. And in order to get an unbiased result, all swimmers in one race must wear the transparent suit. I suggest starting with one of the women's races.

Free for all...
By dali71 on 8/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Free for all...
By The Boston Dangler on 8/12/2008 7:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
you can't seriously expect highly trained atheletes to suddenly drop everything and adopt an alien routine or piece of equipment.

(insert witty insult here)

By InanimateCarbonRod on 8/12/2008 7:41:27 PM , Rating: 2
Might i just add, before you yanks start calling us Aussies hypocrites, because we also wear the suit, that the Head coach of the Australian Olympic swimming team, Alan Thompson, is all for these suits.
Alan told Julian Linden, Reuters "The aim of the game is to break world records. That's what our sport's about ... that's what we come to watch"

Let them swim naked.
By SnakeBlitzken on 8/14/2008 10:35:57 AM , Rating: 2
My guess is Phelps would still be winning his matches.

Who cares
By outwrong on 8/18/2008 1:53:28 PM , Rating: 2
I say let athletes have bionic limbs if they want. The point is to win right? They are biological anomalies anyway so let 'em mutate more. The purity of the sport? Sheesh.

They are pretty good looking back
By Andy35W on 8/19/2008 3:11:52 AM , Rating: 2
From Michael's link

It’s been an amazing 8 days of swimming, 23 out of 25 WR’s have been won by athletes wearing Speedo LZR RACER at the Beijing Games (92%).

94% of gold medals at the games have been won in Speedo LZR RACER.

89% of all medals were won in Speedo LZR RACER.

Every event in men’s swimming was won by an athlete wearing the Speedo LZR RACER.

This has been one of the most exciting and possibly THE greatest swimming event of all time and Speedo LZR RACER has played a part in it. Congratulations to all our athletes on their achievements during the Beijing Games.

Total domination. FINA have found them Ok, but Speedo sponsor FINA :D Cough.

Mind you, coming from the UK it's nice to see a UK company getting the better of the big boys like Nike for once.

Nano Tech
By rupaniii on 8/19/2008 11:08:35 AM , Rating: 2
Unless it has some nana particle based propellers that can move 1000x their weight like ants, just buy your own and we'll call it level play field.

By The Boston Dangler on 8/12/2008 7:48:14 PM , Rating: 1
the LZR RACER has been available for 6 months now, and since it was first used, world records have been falling like dominos. sometimes, the same record is been broken several times in 1 day, and always by users of the LZR. clearly, this equipment has destroyed any concept of a level playing field.

as for availability, speedo is very choosy about who gets it and who doesn't. anyone is able to pre-order the suits on the website, but i'll bet a stack of presidents you ill never have your order filled. saturday night, i saw 1 chinese woman wearing the suit, with some duct tape over the speedo logo. black market, obviously.

the larger question is, who is competing here, manufacturers or atheletes? the IOC is inconsistant in it's rules on equipment, with some sports having multiple manufacturers and some leeway (cycling, bobsleds) and others are allowed only spec-issue gear (white water rafting). the IOC is paralyzed on this issue, as it is on anything that doesn't directly fill their pockets.

imo, this is yet another reason why the olympics have no legitimacy as sport.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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