Although I might get some stick from quick a few people about this, I agree with this. Sport should be dependent on one's own talent, skills. Given these suits do not 'aid' the athlete in performing better, but factors like drag through water, buoyancy and the likes are facets that make the sport what it is. Removing these elements would not only continue on the world record beating path (which then becomes the main motivation) but also take away the human element from the sport. Many sports have fallen prey to this, glad to know the swimming community opened their eyes fast enough to take the sport back to what it ought to be.
I also agree. I'm not against the incorporation of advanced technology in sports in general. As Miss Mu points out below, advances in running shoes and wear in recent years have certainly benefited runners, and I see no problem with that.
For some reason, to me, the use of suits made of "water-repellent polyurethane fabrics that compress to the swimmer's body to make it more streamlined and buoyant" seems to cross a line. The suggestion that the suits aid buoyancy makes it seem to me that using them is less like actual swimming. As tb1 comments below, "why not make the suit in the shape of an inflatable boat and put a jetpack on the back while you are at it?"
High technology is as much part of the Olympics as athletic form. I disagree with banning this or that. Should running shorts or shoes be banned? Maybe the athletes should go naked like in the early Olympics. An athlete's performance depends on a large team effort that includes the trainer, the sponsors, the equipment. We are not in antiquity, let the best teams win with the best training and the best technology.
Impossible for me to form a strong opinion on this. To some degree, what any athlete wears is designed to help maximize their performance in that particular sport. So, ahould we advocate that runners must all wear dress shoes, for instance?
However, getting beyond that, there is a certain appeal to the idea of the women athletes going naked. You know, "as nature intended." Then this whole question would be put to rest.
When someone comments here it's about their perspective not yours. And any attempt at describing yours not only doesn't make sense but would be presumptuous at best (change the topic to..oh i donno, transistors and and u might see how redic it would be). for ex, I know lots of women who'd rather see naked women rather than men, but that's because i know them, not you. As a disclaimer i'm assuming you and Bert are not in a relationship. If so, god help Bert.. :)))
Technology does take some of the purity out of a sport, just like it does out of everything else. However, the world doesn't stand still. The running shoes of today are very, very different from those of just a few decades ago. As are competition bicycles, bob sleds, pole vault poles and on and on.
Given that we are so heavily dependent on technology for just about everything we do, sport or not, I just don't see the logic in banning a high-tech swim suit any more than I would see the logic in banning carbon fiber from a pole vault pole or modern materials from any sports equipment.
Duane, I am with you on the purity aspect of the sport and technology. Where I would draw the line is at active physical assisting of the performance. Examples would include: buoyant suits making it easier to swim (less effort to float more in propulsion), springs in running shoes, motors in rowing,etc. I am not adverse to slipperier materials, better made seems (or seamless construction), more (or less for that matter) coverage of the athletes' body, etc.
As an ex-competitive swimmer, I disagree. Technology needs to be limited for safety reasons (eg the javalin was redesigned to make it fly less far and F1 regulations are constantly being changed for that and other reasons) and needs to be appropriate (eg no motors or flippers for swimming), but after that why limit it at some arbitary point? Afterall, before lycra was invented presumably swimsuits were made of something less good?
So, you're saying that high tech swim suits should be banned because the high speed is unsafe for swimmers?
Safety is one thing. When safety isn't an issue, then we need to find some other excuse. There's PLENTY of high tech sports equipment in just about any sport you can name, to improve performance without impacting safety (sometimes athlete safety is enhanced, in fact). Are we going to ban all of it? And if not, why not?
Cycling went through a similar phase when recumbent bikes were first allowed, then banned after smashing every known record. It's really arbitrary at what point you disallow technology advances in judged sports like swimming for the Olympics.
As a father of a competitive swimmer, this rule will really help out my pocketbook if he progresses far enough. Those suits are very expensive.
And really, a buoyant suit? Heck, why not make the suit in the shape of an inflatable boat and put a jetpack on the back while you are at it? This isn't the America's Cup where the technology of the boat is an important part of the competition. It is swimming.
They should have a 'float' test. If the swimming suit floats on top of the water, it is banned.
@tb1- I'm with you. The idea is that if everyone has the high-tech swimwear, it's a level playing field. But if nobody has them, it's a level playing field also. And the suits are expensive, so why not just stick with the less advanced and less costly gear?
Because we, humans, want and need to push barriers, and our brain-generated technology is part of who we are. So why not use technology we developed to push barriers, as long as everyone has access to it?
The float test would disallow many fabrics currently used in all sorts of clothing, even cotton. How long does the testing have to run while waiting for the cloth to saturate and sink? The manner in which the cloth is placed in the water can determine how well it floats. I can see all sorts of arguments come out of that. Next I suppose they'll be testing swimmers for "slicking agents" like Teflon. I seem to remember sailing competitions that inspected boats for dispensing systems used to make the water-hull boundary layer slicker.
There is a school of thought that says let's give athletes every possible mean of improving their performance and as long as all athletes have access to the same tools, it's fair game. I subscribe to this school.
I've heard someone argue that there should be a 'Steroid Olympics' where, as you say, athletes can use every possible means of improving their performance.
And, similarly, there should be a 'Plastic Surgery Beauty Contest'. It seems humorous, but some of them end up being exactly that.
I guess in this case we're talking about technology, not biology. I joked about the jetpack, but doesn't that match your argument? So where would you draw the line? Maybe not where I would draw it, but I assume that you would draw the line before the jetpack.
Nike and swimmers talk all about the streamlining, but gloss over the fact that these suits capture air--they are floats! That's why I brought up the sink test. Allowing suits that add buoyancy is just lunacy.
The line should be drawn by the consensus of the day. I would not accept harmful steroids myself but who knows what the consensus would be in the future? May be we will have half-human half-cheetah competitors in the 100m Olympics Finals in the future lol
When you find this mythically pure state of humanity let me know, so that I can extract it, enhance it, bottle it and sell it back to you. We use technology because it what we do. So we find that moving through water cause drag. The natural human response is to reduce that drag. That would include better technique and technology. I tend to believe that these general bands don’t service the organization or the athletes. I would rather not see acknowledgment of current swimsuit design over shadowing. The incredible effort it takes to be an Olympic level athlete. O’well I have said enough, but claims of purity really bugs! We are the ones making this up.
The problem I have with the ban is simply that someone, a committee, then needs to define the precise technical parameters of the allowed swimsuits -- drag coefficient, buoyancy, maximum area of skin coverage, etc., and in so doing, they are still defining technical attributes of the suits. They're simply not allowing the most efficient or effective suits.
I suppose the most fair alternative would be to require the athletes to swim naked. But would they still be allowed to shave off body hair?
What makes this tough is the rate at which change that is occurring. There have always been innovations technically, but also through the sensors and analytical tools used in training - and Michael Phelps is sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber - is tb1 (above) going to buy one of those for his son??? A level playing field has always been a fantasy although a worthwhile goal (for the democrats anyway ;) We definitely need to take the technology into account and qualify all records perhaps - shoes, steroids, aerodynamics, diet, high altitude training you can't really compare athletes of today with athletes from decades past evenly.
It is a shame that there are no level playing fields, and for many people that distorts to me what is the main attraction of the people who push themselves so hard - to be inspirational to us all and especially our children.
50 years ago before advertising there were very few "pro" athletes. Except for professional sports teams many had to pay their own way, and their ability to push their physical limits were limited. State sponsored athletics really pushed that system of "normal" people pushing themselves and competing against others.
The game now has gone to the point that you not only have to have the skills, training, practice, diet and $$$, but also be genetically gifted - although it is amazing what a few exceptional people on the edge can do (Love the movie Gattaca). I believe my son is less inspired by today's basketball players because they are so tall and strong that there is little in common with them and 99.999% of the population.
Keeping it inspirational is my main goal, and setting the records is secondary although very entertaining, it really is about the person, their journey and their results. My 20cents..
The problem with regulating sports technology is it is impossible to set logical bounds. Ex: at one point in time only cotton was available for suites. Should Lycra have been prohibited? Nearly every sport has benefited from technology: tennis (racquet and shoe design); cycling (unimaginable changes in materials and bike computer aided design), skiing (ski design and materials) and the list goes on. Are we also going to limit technology in training?
It's a winsome thought to go back to competing in the nude with homemade equipment - great equalizers. And, yes, the expense of technology bars some from competing - very true in cycling. But, since there is no logical stopping point where we say the technology of three years ago is ok but today's is not, we are stuck with better athletes made even better by better equipment.
There should be a balance on what is not allowed and what is allowed in sports competition, as long as the field is even for all participants, it does not matter what technology, one should use, the opposing athlete will also have access to, he may choose to use one or not, it is his choice, back in my early days of collage swimming competition, some swimmers choose ordinary swimming trunks while we choose Speedo trunks, we were a laughing stock as being immodest in a clean sport, now ,look who’s wearing them… it boils down to fair and level access to swimwear .
I agree with your comment, that there should be a balance in the completion of sports. But there comes a point where technology will be so dependent on athletes that there will need to be changes such as the FINA ban. Sports need to focus more on the talent of the swimmers rather on how much money they need to spend on their swim suits. Swimming is evolving into a very competitive sport, but we can't entirely create new regulations every year because it will take a while to go in effect. Yes, FINA created a huge issue that the swimming world has to deal with, but Barak talks about how there will be more suits that will be made to help the athletes continue doing what they were doing. This is just another bump in the road, and before you know it we won't bother this issue any longer.
This is rediculous. Technology has been used in all sports to make the human body more comparable with the element they're competing in. What, do you think that runners wear those skin tight full-body suits because they look cool? NO! They wear them to make themselves more streamline!
We can imaging this: a swimming suite made of nano-things with energy harvest miniatures (from the wave), and the energy is used to drive mini-motors to propel the player. We know who will win even before the game started. So, the high-tech swim-suite should not be allowed, it is way too unfair.