Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 18th will be FINA's version of 'high noon' for some speedsuit manufacturers!

Above is the new redesign of the Rocket Science speedsuit. Note how the legs have been shortened and the arms removed. I actually like the look of this suit better when compared to the original design.

With all these changes in mind will this suit, the Jaked, or the bluseventy Nero be deemed illegal for the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome? We find out, or find out something on May 18th, 2009

From the Canadian Press:

"... LAUSANNE, Switzerland — A panel of swimming experts will meet Monday to decide which models of high-tech swimsuits can be worn at the world championships this summer.

FINA, swimming's world governing body, said Wednesday independent laboratory tests have been completed on all models of suits which have been used by swimmers to rewrite the sport's record book in the past 15 months.

"Now we have the results of the tests," FINA said in a statement. "The commission will analyze the results and draw a list of the swimsuits that are approved and not approved."


How do you like that last sentence? That tells me that there will be rejected suits. The consequences of that are far reaching for this will effect age group swimmers, the college teams and USMS masters swimmers.

I suspect that the approval process will be highly political and that FINA is not loving this situation at all.

For instance, what if the LZR is found to be the only "scientifically acceptable" speedsuit and all the others are deemed too buoyant? The amount of lost revenue to suit manufacturers through R&D research, lost sales, and blown-out ad budgets could potentially bankrupt some suit manufacturers and perhaps cripple global sponsorships. This includes the USMS, FINA events and perhaps college swimming.

Yes, FINA is not loving this at all.

This second round of approval is odd. The suits were approved once and now they have to be approved for a second time at great expense. This is the equivalent of an umpire in a baseball game reversing his "strike-call" to a "ball" at the behest of the opposing league coaches.

In this case my perception of the "opposing coaches" metaphor comes from my observation that it was the National Governing Bodies calling for a second suit review rather than living with the first approval round. Governing bodies like USA Swimming; (who is being sued by TYR for a an anti-trade bias with Speedo), and Australian Swimming whose coach has made it clear he supports the Speedo LZR.

For example: Alan Thompson quoted in FOX Sports Australia:

"We have to know scientifically what is really happening."

Australian head coach Alan Thompson said talk about the suits detracted from the performances of the swimmers.

"People saying the suits doing it takes away from the athletes, there are rules that govern these things and Speedo did what they need to get them passed. I have no problem," he said.

"World records go down at this time you would hope (in the lead-up to an Olympics)."


Next example of a Speedo bias comes from USA Swimming Olympic Team Coach, Mark Schubert, who was being paid to endorse Speedo while coaching our Olympic team.

For instance: On June 28th, 2008, in the New York Times Blog: RINGS 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, Karen Crouse wrote this about Mark Schubert's relationship with Speedo

"...What he did not mention is that the defendants, in asking for a continuance, provided sworn testimony from Stu Isaac, the director of marketing for Speedo, confirming that [Mark] Schubert is paid to endorse Speedo and that one of Isaac’s jobs is to manage Speedo’s relationship with USA Swimming. ..."


Both National Governing Bodies have made it clear that they want speedsuit design suppressed. This occurred after several dynamic and innovative competitors entered the market with suits made of a different rubber and a simpler way to manufacturer than the Speedo LZR.

Is this truly a buoyancy "fix" or is it more like something Tony Soprano would say such as: "the fix in"?

Once FINA has makes their decision, how will consumers react and what will be the consequences?

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