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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Swim Suits

It is is not secret that swim suits have changed a great deal of what is going on in the sport of swimming over the last 8-12 months. For example, last year I brought Katelyn Drake to her first ever national meet when she went 58.89 in the 100 back - and was the last women invited for that event.  This year, she put on a new 200 plus dollar suit and went 57.68 unshaved in our last dual meet (.15 off the automatic cut), and 57.52 totally shaved at the national meet.  Big difference?... maybe, she dropped 1.1 seconds last year too.  

However, this year the NCAA invited twenty 100 backstrokers to the meet, and Katelyn was seeded 19th going in with her 57.68.  Yeah, 19th with a  time .15 off the automatic invite.  Looking at that stat, as a swim coach who is trying to keep up with all the info out there, I got to tell you, I was very surprised.  (On average it seems as though the suits helped sprinters (50 and 100's) the most... usually leading to a about .8 drop per 100 yards.  I am proud that Katelyn dropped 1.3 seconds, making me (and hopefully her) see that her hard work and dedication paid off more than the suit helped) Nonetheless, it took nearly a second faster to just get invited to the meet this year!  I can't lie, this kind of info leads me to wonder exactly how good a coach I was, and also, what exactly do times mean nowadays?

So now I joke with other coaches about our how our recruits need a new box to check when filling out their best times (wearing a "Next Gen Suit"? Y/N).  I look at times and can't help but wonder if they were wearing a FSPro or LZR.  I mean, seriously, are we talking about a one second difference per 100 yards!?!  And every time that thought goes through my head, I am slightly disappointed this happened.  I'll get over it though because I had the pleasure of watching a great deal of my athletes (with or without the suit) get faster, smile from ear to ear, and have a fun and rewarding season. Bottom line, that is why I show up and work the hours I do each day.

So the word out there now is that the suits are going to change (again)... and possibly records are going be difficult to be break for a while.  Below is a 26 minute video off one of the most informative swimming sites out there, (yeah, 26 minutes!)  It is an interview with one of the leaders of American Swimming, John Leonard.  He is a part of the suit committee that FINA (our international governing body) has put together, and he answers a lot of questions.  If you don't have the time to watch the whole thing - here is a quick recap.

• Usian Bolt's "Athlete of the Year" award was in fact the "bolt" that lead FINA to look at suits more carefully (majority of the writers commented that they believed the suit helped Phelps win 8 golds and break all the records, whereas Bolt used a pair of shoes).
• As of a few weeks ago a few big boys (Blue Seventy, Arena X-Glide, and the Jaked suits) were not on the approved list, but Speedo's LZR was. B70, Arena, and Jaked "may trap air" and that is why they were not approved.  Conspiracy theorists wonder why the LZR wasn't banned as it is very apparent to all that it also "may trap air."
• By the time FINA's late summer meetings are over we will "probably" see a ban on all suits that have non-permeable fabrics.  That would be mean the LZR would become a no-no.  That rule will go into affect January 1st 2010, making this coming NCAAs experience a step back in terms of suit technology.  (i.e. don't buy a $400 suit this summer with non-permeable fabric.  And if you do have one, get ready to use it in our inter-squad meet - or during a "get out" swim!)
• Masters swimmers can buy these suits as most believe that it will help increase the number of people still competing...  however, don't try and break a world record at a Masters meet b/c it won't count!
• Finally, general consensus from coaches around the world is that they want FINA to only allow a knee to navel suit for men, and hips to shoulder suit for women.  Bringing us back to pre 2000 suits.  We'll see if this gets adopted. 

That's all I got for now... feel free to leave comments/questions if you would like.
- Coach


DrakeDaddy said...

Suits or no suits (i mean "old school suits, not Greek Olympic style...hey now...) anyway you just KEEP ON DOING, WHAT YOU ARE DOING Coach. You have proven to the Team, Fans/Parents and other coaches in the Conference that the improvements would still been seen by the Bates Swimming Program no matter what the swimmers wear. It's your passion for competitive swimmming, the coaching, the mental preparation, and all the hard work you have put in that has had an effect and made the difference for each swimmer and the Program as a whole. I can see it from outside the box! The times will come down, no matter what and MOST OF ALL you will continue to turn out GREAT SWIMMERS and even GREATER PEOPLE all because they were once part of Bates Bobcats Swimming Program.

Keep us followers posted on what is legit for next year, looking forward to one grand finale!

Anonymous said...

You children and your water floatation and deflection devices!...we prefer to swim in our native traditional style started by our Olympic forefathers...swim unencumbered, swim FREE! For this isn't Nescac...
~ Leonides

Anonymous said...

I got an unused 28 paper suit if anyone wants to try