Saturday, November 08, 2008

FINA allegedly approves a suit that creates "...a slightly positive buoyancy just below the legal limit."

The company is called Rocket Science Sports and they brazenly state they are officially at the "top of the food chain" in regards to swim suit technology.

I found this story originally at and this is what Craig Lord has to say: "...The food chain?..." "...Sports gear makers who would not have looked towards pool water in the past are now turning their gaze to a sport which is in its infancy in terms of what could be achieved in a world in which the governing body is happy to approve garments that serve as devices and enhance performance. ..." Swim News [Link]

What does Rocket Science Sports have to say? "...Why compromise on performance? It’s as close to a wetsuit you can come for non-wetsuit legal swims. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out a full coverage suit reduces drag more so than a traditional swim skin.

It does however take a rocket scientist to design a full length suit that allows 100% Stroke-Distance Efficiency and to create a revolutionary drainage system within the suit to eliminate water accumulation... Lucky for us we happen to have one on staff.

USAT Approved and Legal for Competition! FINA Approved Version Available Feb. 2009..." [Link]

My personal take is that we are at a "fork in the road" here. We either let swim suit technology rule the day and let said technology create suits that divide the water in front of us like "Mosses," or more ethically, FINA creates a de facto rule set for allowable fabrics, suit styles, and/or textures with none of the above providing no hint of buoyancy whatsoever.

FINA obviously has a motive in all this: I don't know if it is the fees the suit companies pay them to approve these swimsuits or that the sport is drawing more participants as a result of the speedsuit phenomena.

There is a motive in here someplace and someone please find it and tell me what it is?

Speaking of speedsuits, Today was an off day for me at a Short Course Meters meet in Santa Clarita. Even though I swam a 29.01* in a 50-free which is a personal best, and despite swimming with a broken thumb and some spotty workouts leading up to the meet, I felt sloppy and half awake. Nonetheless, I credit the speedsuit for helping with that personal best. When I swam a 200 scm free without a speedsuit, I was off my PB by a second. Note, the race was 20 minutes before the 50-free and I wore briefs and was fatigued thereafter.

Speedsuits are tech dope and I am becoming addicted. Where does swimming go? I don't know!

(*My long course time is a 28.6 so go figure that out why my SCM times are slower.)


Rob D said...

Hey Tony-

I've been following your blog since I found it about a week ago and I think I met you today without realizing you were you! I'm pretty sure you loaned me some sunscreen, thank you again by the way. As much as you might not be excited about your :29 in that 50 free today you can rest assured that at least 1 person is jealous seeing as I can't seem to crack :30 just yet.

-Rob D

Tony Austin said...

Hey, yeah, you were wearing that stylin' pork pie hat. You swam a lot of events today. :-) And it was nice meeting you too.

Scott said...

Speaking about the motives behind FINA it is all about money. Not necessarily the fees and sponsorship monies being paid into swimming from the major suit manufacturers but FINA's strong desire to avoid the inevitable lawsuits which would accompany any banning of already approved suits. Consequently FINA is going full steam ahead in approving new suits in an effort to create a financial disaster if their decisions are reversed. Personally I think the FINA executive has completely jettisoned any idea of acting for the good of the sport and are now making decisions purely on the basis of their own self interest. We've opened Pandora's Box with these suits.

Merritt Johnson said...

Increasing regulation in an organization always comes with substantial costs. I highly doubt that the current staff of FINA has the sufficient ability to really scrutinize all these new suits. If they changed the rules to include more detailed regulations on fabric, buoyancy, water absorption, etc. Then they would also have to invest in the infrastructure to enforce it. I for one, would rather not have to submit myself to a tech inspection that rivals that of a NASCAR race before competing in a sanctioned swimming event. There is no way to effectively regulate suits without analyzing the exact suit a swimmer chooses to wear in a race, relying only on the external appearance and the outside label leaves too much open. In every type of racing, it is all about bending the rules as much as you can without getting caught. Like it or not, it is what happens in reality, just think of recent changes to breaststroke.

Scott said...

On this I'm with you Merritt. In fact I'd say it's virtually unanimous that FINA is completely out of its depth trying to regulate any advances in swimsuit technology. The consensus opinion is we either completely open up swimsuit design to only minimal guidance; or bring it back to the level of wooden bats and baseballs still being made out of cork, rubber, wool, cotton and leather. Certainly cheating can occur but that is a different issue.

jc said...

Tony -- What type of speedsuit were you wearing, and what's your latest take on which the fastest one is?

Tony Austin said...

I don't know. I saw Erik Hockstein set a world record in a LZR and it took me and another person to zip him up before hand and it was a frightening experience because I was afraid I would rip the suit.

The suit material felt solid but this blog is full of LZR suit failures.

Also note that later in the day he nearly set a word record in a blueseventy.

I don't know what the fastest suit is. I have been offered to try a NERO blueseventy and a TYR Tracer but I declined.

Now we have the Rocket Science, The Jaked, R-Evolution, The Velocity Speedsuit, Finis Hydrospeed, and others.

So my answer is going to be a guess: If I had to choose which is the fastest and I couldn't test any of them out beforehand and I was only going to wear it for one race, I would wear a LZR because of Erik's world record and his reaction to how fast it felt.

If I had to pick the fastest suit for a whole season, it would be the TYR Tracer Light but maybe a Tracer Rise. The Arena intrigues me but it has no presence here in the US.

I didn't mention the blueseventy not because I think there is anything wrong with it, but that it is fastest when it is wet and I like to come to the blocks dry, I swim faster when I am dry. I also feel more confident that I won't slip off the blocks.

As for the Jaked, The Hydrospeed, and most notably the Rocket Science suit, I cannot commit to them since I have never seen them in the water.

The fact that Rocket Science company openly states their suit is the most buoyant and FINA approved is extraordinary and has me interested in seeing what it can acomplish.

jc said...

Tony -- Thank you for the comprehensive response.

Tony Austin said...

I forgot to mention that I was wearing a Nike Hydra - I have decided to wear a speedsuit now in the 200 as well. Anything longer than that I won't wear one.

Kerry said...

*Flip turns and dolphin kick Tony, that's why. ;-)