Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speedo may capitulate: May allow their stable of swimmers to wear competing swimsuits!

The last swimsuit manufacturer that allowed their athletes to wear whatever was Nike and Nike left the swimsuit market soon after.

Why is Speedo doing this?

I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that Speedo's potential capitulation may be a signal that they are abandoning the LZR and don't want to throw anymore money at it.

Again this is an assumption but for Speedo to allow their athletes to make such a bold endorsement of competing suits can't be taken lightly. Especially with names like Phelps, Torres, et al.

Here is what AP had to say:

"... Speedo is discussing whether to allow swimmers it sponsors to wear rival manufacturers' new high-tech suits.

"The brand is continuing to evaluate the situation internally," Speedo vice president for marketing Craig Brommers said in a statement Tuesday. ..."


Deep down I am thinking that Speedo is going to write the LZR off since there is less than 6-months left in the year. I also believe, and you can call it a personal bias that I have, that FINA "feels their pain" and will hook them up in 2010 by wiping out several speedsuit companies with the stroke of a pen.

While Australian swimmers, coaches and Mr. Craig Lord will cheer this news, swimming will have fewer events and lower paid athletes as a result.

Above is a shot of world record holder in the 200 breastroke, Rebecca Soni, wearing a Speedo LZR at the 2009 TYR SwIm Meet of Champions.


Steve said...

"that FINA "feels their pain" and will hook them up in 2010 by wiping out several speedsuit companies with the stroke of a pen."

Why would they be wiped out? They'll just have to make swimsuits that conform to the new standards. Also, in regards to the Australians, TYR, B70 and Jaked suits were prevalent at the Australian trials. I haven't seen Marieke Guehrer wear anything other than a B70. Sure, Trickett and Sullivan are sponsored by Speedo, but let's not generalise.

Tony Austin said...

It's my belief that once we go back to briefs, Speedo will use their monopoly position undercut the other suit companies price wise.

I think b70 and Jaked will only remain a player if they adopt a radical technology that Speedo does not have access to.

maly said...

i just uploaded the video of aschwin wildeboer world record in the 100 back . good race of mellouli in the 1500 free but i couldn't get the video.

Tony Austin said...

Maly, you are so good to us - I owe you several bottles of California wine for all the stuff you have submitted. I will post soon! Thank you.

maly said...

i am lucky that eurosport france signed with the french federation because now we have swimming on tv.
at the french open i got you a autograph from huegill the australian swimmer . i am uploading my pictures from the meet at http://www.flickr.com/photos/maly11/

Steve said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Blueseventy and Jaked have exclusive access to the materials they're using. Considering how many manufacturers now have 100% non-permeable suits (B70, Jaked, TYR Titan, Adidas, Mizuno, Arena, Descente), there's no reason why Speedo can't make their own Jaked like suit. Perhaps they'll be a small player for a year. But eventually they'll go on to dominate the market by sponsoring the top two teams in the world and a stable of world record holders. In my opinion, I don't think allowing these new suits will have much of an impact on Speedo's market position in the long term.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that both Cate Campbell and Jessica Schipper are sponsored by Adidas and should be wearing the Hydrofoil at Rome.

Tony Austin said...

No, they do not have an exclusive, they buy their materials stock. But having an exclusive, i.e. license to a patent is what they should be thinking. IMHO

Thanks for the info on Cate Campbell, Schipper.

Amanda said...

What's really bizarre is that Australian swimmers like Eamon Sullivan and Libby Trickett are probably going to use the Hydrofoil as well, despite their individual contracts with Speedo, yet Phelps confirmed absolutely today that he would be wearing the LZR. Phelps, Torres, Schubert, and Lochte's dad were on a conference call to discuss the suits, and Steve Lochte said that even Ryan's decision is up in the air, although he would like to honor his contract. So why is Phelps so firm on this? No hint of indecision whatsoever, even though this could hurt him at Worlds. Theory: his contract is up at the end of this year. His loyalty will be majorly rewarded.

Tony Austin said...

Awesome comment. I like your take on Phelps.

TedBaker said...

All this talk about the damm suits... That, in and of itself, is reason enough to get rid of them. The politics of who's wearing what and how much "advantage" one brand provides versus the other...

Cap, goggles, suit: Go race. Stand up here, swim down there and first one back wins. It was simple and straightforward. Now, it's a mess.

Frankly, I wouldn't mind the fast suit technology all that much if the technology stabilized... Now, though, it seems to me to be this continuos "arms race", where each manufacturer is coming up with the "newest and best". Last year's $400.00 LZR technology is now replaced with this year's $600.00 Jaked, which might be replaced with who knows what for how much next year... And, if you get the latest technology first, well, to the victor goes the spoils. World Records are yours, prize money, you name it.

Yes, the suit manufactures are going to make more money. A 2% margin on a $500.00 suite is double a 10% margin on a $50.00. And, yes, perhaps some of that extra margin will get pumped into the sport.

But at what cost? The purity of the sport has been comprimised.

And don't give the "lane rope and goggle" arguments: It's chalk and cheese. Goggles were cheap and they allowed swimmers to train longer. Anti-turbulence ropes provided the same benefit to everyone.

FINA has screwed this up and screwed it up very, very badly. They got in bed with Speedo on the LZR and opened Pandora's box.

I think we've really messed this up.

Tony Austin said...

I accept your comments as ethically solid but I want to talk about the money component: The cost of a Jaked is based upon the Euro. The suit sells for €372 [Euros] or $522.64 in US dollars.

If the Jaked 01 had existed the day George Bush took office, the suit would not have sold for the $522.64 price it is today but rather it would sell for $272.60.

It would be the least expensive speedsuit on the market.

Due to irrational US Federal deficits, zero banking regulation since 1998, a mortgage bubble collapse, and a bailout package that bailed out who?, The dollar has become irrelevant.

Even the Chinese think it is a bad investment and they want the world to adopt a new reserve currency rather than the dollar. That currency will either be the British Pound or the Euro.

Unfortunately, this is the new normal: High unemployment, a very weak dollar, and inflation.

TedBaker said...

With great respect, this has nothing to do with US politics and exchange rates.

The cost of the suits are one the ethical challenges the speedsuits present but it is not the only one and, I would argue, it's not even the major one.

The main ethical challenge is the nature of the advantage they provide and their seemingly endless "improvements". The latest and greatest technology provides a specific advantage to the athlete that has it and it puts at a disadvantage the athlete that doesn't.

In a sport like swimming, where the difference between 1st and 50th is somewhere around 3%, where records are broken by 1/100th(!) of a second, this can not be. It is intrinsically unethical. It is not fair.

FINA, to my mind, can only do one of two things: They must either ban the speedsuits entirely or they must stabilize their design and specifications.

And, frankly, the second option is extremely awkward as it leaves the door open to considerable cheating. The mechanics of testing and determining what is legal and what is not at major (And minor) meets would be complex, cumbersome and extremely time consuming.

TedBaker said...

Refute my argument. Honestly, if someone has got someway of squaring this circle, I want to read it.

Let's keep perspective here: We are talking about swimming, not Iraq or Afghanistan. Nobody's dying or getting killed...

In the elite competitive swimming world, though, I think these suits are fundementally unethical and unfair.

Unless some can convince that the design can be stabilized and that there will be an way - a relatively easy way - to verify, at the meet, what each swimmer is wearing.

Tony Austin said...

There is nothing to refute: I know you think suits are unethical and unfair and your premise is solid and well reasoned. I for one think that suits are really fun and are going to grow the sport economically and internationally.

It use to be Australia and America on the podium. Now it is France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Brazil, America, Tunisia, and Australia. I believe suits have made swimming more exciting

I was simply saying that the Jaked 01 wouldn't cost very much if the dollar meant something. Also, last years suits don't cost that much either. And I never brought up the wars.

track and field adopted rubber tracks and shoes, etc. Swimming got rid of the wool suit and adopted poly-lycra blends. Cycling adopted technology, basket ball has better shoes, etc. etc.

I suspect we all go back to Jammers and briefs in 2011, and when we do, athletes will make less money, there will be fewer meets, and there will be fewer heros.

Just an opinion.

Ultimately it is like this:

TedBaker said...

Fun is fun, no doubt.

Is it ethical, though? Is it right?

Tony Austin said...

Applied Ethics relates to professions, practices and disciplines. i.e. business ethics, bioethics, journalistic ethics etc. etc.

Per USA Swimming, Australian Swimming and the other international NGB's, speedsuits are unethical.

Per me: They are not

TedBaker said...

How are they unethical?

TedBaker said...

Sorry, my last post was in error. Should have asked, in your words, how are the speedsuits not unethical?

Tony Austin said...

Per my feelings they are not unethical. Per the NGB's that have to pay out world record bonuses, speedsuits are "destroying swimming."

Tony Austin said...

They are perfectly ethical because swimming is a sport with rules that are evolve. Take for example the breaststroke turn, the butterfly which was a hybrid breaststroke at one time, starting blocks, goggles, and now speedusuits.

Professional swimmers have access to more sponsors, higher wages, and perhaps a longer career.

Steve said...

Andrew Lauterstein, Speedo sponsored athlete, set a PB in an Arena X-Glide yesterday during hard training.


Confirmation that Speedo has granted its athletes freedom to wear competitor's suits.

TedBaker said...

The evolution of the rules you note happened for everyone, at the same time. It was/is a level playing field.

A specific speedsuit provides a specific athlete with a specific advantage; the benefit is not uniform.

Speedsuits are unethical. They may be fun but they are unethical.