Sunday, November 09, 2008

Washington Post: For Amateur Swimmers, the Cost Of Success Doesn't Suit Everyone!

Dan sent us this and I suspect it was something we all knew inside but never said out loud.

Amy Shipley of the Washington Post breaks down the economic hardships of speedsuit costs for families, high schools and colleges: "...The suits even are appearing at the youth and high school levels, coaches and parents say. Many of the top competitors at the recent state high school championships in Arizona wore Speedo's LZR Racer, the model worn by Phelps during the Olympics. Jon Rogers, the aquatics director for Georgetown Prep and owner of the Aqua Hoya Swim Club, speculated that about half of the region's high school swimmers would show up to end-of-season championships in January and February wearing some version of the LZR, which retails for as much as $550.

"Financially, some families can't afford it," Rogers said. "It's going to become a big issue. ..." [Link]

FINA is approving suits while the NCAA and USA Swimming have major economic class considerations. I am sure national governing bodies in Europe, Australia, the Americas and Asia have similar complaints too. It seems like FINA is so far removed from these national governing bodies at large that it appears that they simply do not talk to each other whatsoever regarding the problems they face regionally.


Scott said...

But despite the obvious economic issues associated with the new tech suits both the NCAA and USA Swimming approved them (USA Swimming's ban on 12&U using the suits has loopholes you could drive a truck through, not to mention Speedo doesn't make the suits in childrens sizes ... yet). What's going on with the bodies which are supposed to represent their memberships interests? I think the sport needs a world-wide referendum on whether these suits should be banned and for what age groups.

Merritt Johnson said...

I don't think banning the suits is the answer at all. With more and more companies coming up and getting new high tech suits on the market there is more competition to bring prices down. New tech has development costs, and companies do want to recoup those expenses with the sale of their product, however with more competition they have to set prices accordingly. If more consumers can access these products then the prices will come down faster, since the development expenses are absorbed in less time. Trying to keep the sport of swimming out of the technology game will be a losing battle.

Scott said...

I'd disagree with you on several points Merritt. One, that people are arguing the suits are devices. As such they would have varying effects on an individual's speed depending on the mix of talent and ability each person brings with them. Two, the use of the new technology breaks the link with previous generations much more dramatically than previous improvements in pool technology and suit materials. We could be seeing a decade or more where the faster times are wholly independent of better swimming and instead a function of improved technology. I'd also like to point out limiting the effects could easily be achieved through rule changes such as those presented here. Lastly, while science and technology applied to society's problems can be a great boon - I seriously question their benefits when applied to sports. Even F1 is looking for ways to get out of the financial sinkhole of ever better technology.