I had criticized Britta Steffen's comment regarding the suit she wore at German Nationals where she stated: "this material can destroy the sport of swimming." I countered with a comment that she only swam .42 seconds off her personal best and only .03 faster than the former WR held by Libby Trickett in the event.
Her world record of early last week was a 52.85 lowering the standard to a 52.82
Maly sent us news that Britta set another WR in the 100-meter-free in a time of 52.56: split 25.30- 27.26. Hence, the suit she wore, the Arena Hydroplane, may had reduce as much as .71 seconds off her personal best time in Beijing 53.12. (Read as possible and not definitive.)
From The Straits Times [Link]
I will say that this is a significant drop!
Dawn Fraiser went form a 1:02 to a 58.9 in her swimming career
Shane Gould went from a 59.9 to a 58.5
Kornelia Ender from East Germany during the 1970's droped her WR times by more than 3-seconds and her teammates dropped another second after that but the conditions are more than just suspicious.
However, with that said, the new suits are not dropping times that significantly.
If you look at Jenny Thompson's record in 1992 where the materials for suits were lycra and polyester, her WR time was a 54.48 Now moving forward to From Inge de Bruijin to Britta Steffen in 2006 the WR dropped from 53.80 to 53.30 or a full .50 seconds in a six six years.
When the suits appear in March 08, the times drop a total of .71 - I really don't think that a .71 drop is destroying the sport of swimming when you look at the girls who are setting these records.