This is why I fully support a modesty suit in masters!

I’ve been attempting to stay away from the suit debacle going on at the moment as much as possible, but I’ve been hearing and seeing so much recently that I figured I should give a quick breakdown on the mess for the casual observer.

First and most importantly for us masters swimmers: NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!! Will there be changes to what we can wear in the future? Probably. Is it going to happen during 2009? Probably not. I’ll keep you all updated as the masters situation progresses.

Ok so back to FINA’s inability to make a decision… to recap, they let bodysuits into the pool. Then they let Speedo introduce polyurethane to suits. Things expand from there and FINA lets it happen. Once the Speedo LZR gets eclipsed by other smaller manufacturers all of a sudden this is a dire crisis and half the suits are banned… and then most of them are reinstated. This past week FINA decided to way overreact and cut it back to kneeskins for the ladies and jammers for the men. Today there was talk of maybe guys will be able to wear kneeskins. This was then compounded by Phelps losing the 200m free today to a (very fast) guy wearing an X-Glide, and now that he lost something it’s all about the suits. It couldn’t have anything to do with the 6 months off and the unsuccessful tweaks to his stroke right? So now his coach is threatening to not swim him internationally until the suit debacle is sorted out… uh huh… a debacle that was arguably started by a polyurethane paneled suit specially designed with Phelps in mind that he wore in the single greatest Olympic performance of all time while a lot of swimmers from other countries were unable to get their hands on them? The way I see it the LZR opened the door, other companies out innovated Speedo, and instead of building a suit to compete with the new all polyurethane suits they tried to get them banned instead which effectively kills a good number of their newest market share gobbling competitors.

In a nutshell you have a bunch of adults acting like small children… small children with angry sponsors. All this is doing is hurting the sport by making it look silly and amateurish. Plus if they really pull the suits back as far as they are planning to they basically cast a cloud of doubt over the achievements of pretty much every elite swimmer of the last decade. Way to go guys! Just what a sport that was finally gaining some long lasting popularity outside of an Olympic year needed, to be called a sham by its governing body. Fantastic.

I recommend ignoring most of the announcements that come out of FINA for a while. They have proven to be a thinly skinned and overreactionary group that can’t make or stick to a decision. Personally I have no problems with suits as long as they aren’t buoyant like a wetsuit (there’s a big difference between *feeling* bouyant and *being* buoyant by the way). I think the tech suits make swimming more aesthetically pleasing for a lot of people and it has generated a lot of buzz around the sport. I saw the Arena X-Glide on BuzzFeed (a site that tracks viral web content and pop culture) today and I’ve seen Ricky Beren’s butt poking out of a broken Jaked pretty much everywhere online in the last 24 hours. I also think the tech suits have been a big piece of the growth in popularity of adult swimming through masters. I’d rather wear a body suit in public than just a brief or a jammer, and I’m sure a lot of other people feel the same way.

Anyways that’s the short version of what’s going on… USMS – nothing yet, FINA – complete nonsensical mayhem.

4 Responses to “Suit Debacle ’09: World Championship Edition”

  1. Tony Austin says:

    Loved it… I would like to add that when the LZR appeared on the scene, both American and Australian swimmers had a monopoly on them.

    The French and Italians had nothing!

    The German team was in a shambles because they did not believe they could win for USA team coach Mark Schubert insisted that whoever didn't wear one would sit out the Olympics and that USA Swimming had actually done test s and came up with a 2% faster number.

    No tests were ever conducted.

    Now that European suits have leapfrogged the LZR, FINA moved to ban them.

  2. Lacy says:

    Rob, you are my hero. I sat and listened to the Universal Sports broadcast and all I could hear was Rowdy Gains and Andrea Kramer going on and on (and ON) about the suits. I've seen a lot of swim (or, really, Phelps) fans going crazy about how swimmers in Jaked and Arena suits are cheating, comparing it to take PE drugs. It's insane. I have at least half a rant written in my own blog at the moment (unposted mostly because I'm a little over sensitive at the moment), but you really just said it all better than I could anyway.

    When they interviewed MP after the 200 free, he made a comment that the suit ban would cause swimming to be swimming again. What I want to know is if he considers what he did in a LZR swimming, or if he thinks that suit helped him win all those medals in Beijing. I love what MP is doing for the sport, but Michael and Bob Bowman are acting like children. The competitors suits are better than theirs, so they're taking their ball and going home.

    The bottom line, though, is stated beautifully here. The suits are legal. There is NO cheating going on. Maybe things have gone too far, but if so, FINA let it happen. It'll be interesting to see how things pan out.

  3. Rob D says:

    Well I'm glad you guys are with me.

    Lacy – I couldn't believe how much Rowdy couldn't shut the hell up about suits! He's sponsored by B70 and is swimming masters world records in a Nero! I think most of the "suit problem" is various parts of the media that write the story as suits are cheating/unfair/what have you. They're creating most of the negative perception that they are complaining about.

    Regardless, this mess is far from over… I look forward to hearing your own rant, I think it's a rule now that if you own a swim blog you have to bitch about suits at least once a quarter :)

  4. Anonymous says:

    "I also think the tech suits have been a big piece of the growth in popularity of adult swimming through masters. I'd rather wear a body suit in public than just a brief of a jammer, and I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way."

    Think Viagra.