Monday, June 23, 2008

A Whole New Speedo

With the Olympics right around the corner, have you heard about the controversy concerning Speedo's LZR Racer Suits? The suits themselves are an amazing concept and product of intensive research and development.

Speedo says:
The ultimate suit offering a fabric with the lowest friction drag, constructed to compress the swimmer into the smoothest, streamlined shape and designed to ensure the full range of movement to win.
The LZR RACER concept was developed by Aqualab, Speedo's global research and development facility. Aqualab works with world class experts from diverse industries including aerospace, engineering and medicine.
I think it's amazing. How cool are these? There are no seams, and it takes 20 minutes to get into one. I think we should all pat Speedo on the back, not demonize them.

The idea of controversy goes something like this: For one, people are saying that the suit is making the sport more about 'technology' than talent. Secondly, people are upset that Speedo has a monopoly on the suits, making it nearly impossible for other corporations to compete and unfair for athletes in countries with other brand contracts.

Popular thought seems to be that swimmers can't win gold medals without the LZR suit. The Economist says:
Speedo's LZR swimsuit, which was introduced in February. Fully 38 of the 42 world swimming records that have been broken since then have fallen to swimmers wearing LZRs.
And Gizmodo says:
Known as "doping on a hangar" and the "Speedo surfboard," the LZR has hugged the bodies of 30 record-breaking swimmers since its introduction in February. Rivals complained about fairness, and the International Swimming Federation (aka FINA) scheduled a meeting with Speedo to discuss the seamless, ultrasonically bonded suit. The meeting went swimmingly, for Speedo. Not only did FINA dismiss rivals' claims, they also turned around and endorsed the suit for future pro swimming events.

I think it is ridiculous that people are getting so upset over a swimsuit. The athletes who wear them are simply the best. They train hard and they break records. If a piece of material can make swimmers glide through the water at marginally faster rate and give psychosomatic confidence, why not let them wear it? As for other corporations, they have just as much of a chance of making the same type of suit, and I am sure that in no time, they will. The Speedo brand has just risen in authority but hardly by "unethical" means. Lay off naysayers. The suit doesn't hurt the integrity of the sport.

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