Sunday, December 28, 2008

Statistic: World record progression in swimming due to the re-engineered speedsuits of today is way over exaggerated by the press!

The graphic above from the Economist magazine clearly illustrates that both swimming and track have had roughly the same world record progression percentages from 1985 to 2008 despite the re-engineering of the modern day swimsuit.

The world record progression form 1957 all the way through to 1972 significantly dwarfs any gains made by speedsuit technology from 1975 to 2008.

For example: The 100 meter free world record dropped from 55-seconds in 1957 to the sub 50-mark in the middle-seventies. That is a 10% improvement despite that swimsuit technology was rather static during that period as compared to today.

A proper correlation would be that speedsuits have not destroyed swimming much like Nike running shoes have not destroyed running since the WR progression between the two sports is symmetrical.

The speedsuit burn rhetoric does not support statistics from the International Olympic Committee. I think this is clear evidence that swimming's national governing bodies are using nothing but emotional arguments within the press during the lead-up to the FINA speedsuit meeting in February so as to manipulate both opinion and the outcome.
From the Economist: "...Jamaica's Usain Bolt cruised to victory, taking his own 100m sprint world record down by three-hundredths of a second to 9.69 seconds. In the century or so since official records began, the quickest time has fallen by just under a second—a 9% improvement. But in the pool, Australia's Eamon Sullivan covered 100m in the heats (although he lost in the final) in a world-fastest time of 47.05 seconds, 19 seconds (and 28%) quicker than the record-holder of 1905 ..."

Track and field is moving forward with shoe technology, cycling is moving forward with bearing technology, and swimming is moving forward with fabric technology as it always has and these improvements are not "crimes" against the sport but rather a natural prgression.

UPDATE: An anonymous poster sent me a link to an interactive graph at the New York Times website illustrating the world record progression in each Olympic sport. Not only is swimming just as symmetrical in terms of the percentage of improvement to other sports, in some cases, when compared to weight lifting and other power sports, it is lagging behind in improvement.



Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

Best post ever!! After I read your post, I searched around and found an interactive page from the New York Times that is really cool..and shows world record progressions between events and distances.

Backs up exactly what you hype...great marketing plan...maybe the "perfect storm" of both...

Here is a link that might be worth posting on your main page...

Tony Austin said...

I am going to make a post about your comment. Thank you for sending it.

John Payne said...

Hi Tony -

Enjoy your stuff! I've been collecting items regarding the swimsuit controversy on my blog,

One thing is for sure, folks are pulling out the hyperbole on both sides. "Tech-dopers" v Luddites.

Should be a fun lead-up to the FINA meeting!

Tony Austin said...

I look forward to looking at your link when the VP here is not looking. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Tony did you see the Olympics. Did you see that people did not swim as fast once they removed the floatation suit? Just like the East Germans when they took away their drugs.

Tony Austin said...

I so miss the suits and I hope they come back