Thursday, February 19, 2009

Speedsuits: An informal FINA speedsuit meeting just happened!

I was thrilled to get a call from Lausanne, Switzerland just an hour ago from a individual who just attended the FINA swimsuit manufacturers meeting. This is a pre-meeting the manufacturers decided to have so as to be on the same page before meeting with the FINA officials tomorrow. A final announcement about the fate of speedsuits will be rendered in Dubai next month.

Here is are some snippets from a TVNZ article about the meeting that will take place tomorrow:

The manufacturers have never had it so good and they will not want any bans imposed.

Strong, persuasive argument is expected from all sides and FINA will need to be tough and unrelenting in its pursuit of the right answer. About 20 manufacturers will be present in Lausanne along with a number of coaches, athlete representatives and the FINA technical committee.

FINA will announce its decisions at a meeting in Dubai early next month so that the new laws will be introduced before the world championships in Rome in August. It would be a huge surprise if a ban on multiple suits is not imposed, along with strict guidelines on the area of the body which can be covered, but whether FINA is prepared to go much further than that is the major question.


I was told that all the suit manufacturers are on the same page in that they want a de facto buoyancy test, suit thickness guidelines, a rule to ban multiple suits and/or duct tape "mods" and most importantly clear cut rules so that suit innovation can take place without the fear of a nebulous interpretation wiping out bundles of money in R&D expenses at the last minute.

I was surprised to hear that they are all getting along and that each company is going to make it clear that they will support FINA and will promote swim meets and open water events in the future.

Apparently Speedo is being the most vocal of the bunch and Jason Rance, the "mad scientist" who runs Speedo R&D, was interviewed by The Telegraph and made himself heard:

But Jason Rance, who headed the Speedo research and development team that produced the all-conquering suit with the aid of NASA scientists, has denied that it offers any extra buoyancy and is willing to prove it in a laboratory.

"What I can be clear on is that Speedo has always tested for buoyancy because we don't believe it's fair to have a suit that basically allows you to float on the water," he said.

"We would welcome an independent buoyancy test to make sure that our suit is not buoyant because I think that is something that people have jumped on."


I asked about the TYR people and the blueseventy people since I really don't care about the Speedo people and they repeated that confidence is very high, each manufacturer wants swimming to do very well and all they just want are clear rules so they can support their swimmers and FINA swim events in the future.

I want to thank the person who called me, it was quite thrilling to get a call from the other side of the Atlantic especially about a subject I am very invested in.


Rob D said...

Nice scoop Tony! I'm really curious to see how this pans out. I can just envision this meeting in my head... "ok I don't like any of the rest of you, but I like money... let's not screw this up for each other ok guys?"

I hope they keep what's been released and set some reasonable and clearly understandable standards. I like my fancy swimsuits even though I think 98% of the advantage is all in my head.

Tony Austin said...

I think it was like the producers versus the movie talent unions here in Los Angeles.

The producers being the swimsuit guys and the talent guilds being Australia Swimming, USA Swimming and others as the actors.

So, the "talent guilds" here in L.A. all had different ideas; (SAG, AFTRA, Writers Guild, the Directors Guild etc.), about what royalties they deserve just like the governing bodies do about speedsuits.

So the Producers are real unified and all on on the same page but talent guilds are not. Some are on the same page but others are not even reading from the same book.

So they go to one union at a time, starting with the weakest, and strike a deal - this makes all the other unions cave in.

The suit people tell FINA, this is the compromise that we all agree upon and LEN or UK Swimming perhaps is on board too. They agree that there should be no double suits, no duct tape, buoyancy tests, blah, blah blah and so do they proove that there is something here for every governing body or "union" to like.

So FINA looks at USA Swimming Australia Swimming, and others who are yelling at each other like middle schoolers at recess, and I suspect FINA will take the most rational argument, which is from the suit makers most likely, and will side with the suit makers knowing everybody "got some of their way."

Jason said...

FINA released its amendments.