Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bill Lee, the North American manager for Speedo : "...These suits are gross...!"

More hot rhetoric about speedsuits but this time from Sports Illustrated rather than the Commonwealth press:
"These suits are gross!"... His outrage is now academic. Gross or not, the skinsuit is available through Mrs. Rothhammer, and competing firms have moved fast to copy it

[One Olympian] "... clipped more than five seconds off the American record in the 500-yard freestyle. "I feel the suits are not indecent as long as everybody wears them,"

[Still more rhetoric] "...The suit sticks to me, and there's a lot less drag because water doesn't get down the front." Later she conceded, "This may be more psychological than physical; I always think I'm going to win when I wear it."

In both cases the skinsuits incorporated the first major changes in competitive swim-wear design in 13 years, and swimmers wearing them are setting records with regularity.
Arena has now comes up with a new fabric that is practically see-through:
"... Arena feared that a solid color might unsettle women wearers. Indeed, the tricolor pattern makes the suit seem opaque. Arena calls its mystery fabric Elastomere and claims it is different from the other stretchy materials. Elastomere feels like silky tissue paper because it is woven with a fine elastic thread rather than knitted as the other skinsuit fabrics are. Putting on the Arena suit has been likened to "slipping into a sheer silk stocking. ..."
There there is this classic comment:
"...The U.S. girls who have worn the skinsuits are enthusiastic about them. Their comments range from "All I could feel was my kick," to "When I took my first flip-turn, I wanted to reach down and see if I still had my suit on." "It's like sliding through the water," said another. "The body is completely compressed by the suit. I felt no resistance whatsoever." "I don't feel anything at all," said [an Olympian]. "It's just like wearing nothing." ..."
Sports Illustrated: [Link]
Oh, I forgot to mention that this article was forwarded to me by Anonymous within the comments section of: "A deal is a deal" - Libby Trickett will wear the Speedo LZR at Worlds!" post I made recently.

I also forgot to mention that this Sports Illustrated article was written in 1972, more than 1/3-of-a-century ago! - The Olympian with the comments full of "awesomeness and win" is Shirley Babashoff!

I don't know what happened to Bill Lee, the North American manager for Speedo, but I do know his comments were made after Speedo was getting beat in the pool.

It's all just a little bit of history repeating itself isn't it? This time let's shift to the "Bill Lee's of our day"

[Libby Lenton before the Jaked 01, TYR Titan, blueseventy NERO]

"...MULTIPLE Olympic gold medal winner Libby Trickett believes banning the use of hi-tech bodysuits would set the sport "back a decade".

"...I read that in 1972, I think, there were 53 world records broken, and there has been 54 [long course] this year," Trickett said. "What provided that difference that year?

"...I don't think it really makes sense to ban the suits across the board, because then we would be going back over a decade ago to when we were just wearing the togs - and that, to me, would be a reversal in the sport. I don't see why we would want to go back to that time.


[Now the change of opinion]

" I don't believe (swimsuit technology) should have gone to that level ever," Trickett said.

"I don't blame the manufacturers, they are there to make money, but FINA should have put their foot down, they shouldn't have sold out and I believe they did sell out.

"Now people are more concerned about what suit they wear than what training they have done. FINA shouldn't have put us in this position."

Speedo's poster-girl said she would willingly return to 2007 swimsuit technology, before the advent of the LZR, which opened the door to the new generation of fast suits, if it would rid the sport of the scourge of polyurethane next year.

"No-one wants to waste a year of training and get beaten by a swimsuit," she said.


But the USA still has their very own versions of "Bill Lee" too:
[Mark Schubert before the Jaked 01, TYR Titan, blueseventy NERO]
“My advice to athletes is, ‘You have a black-and-white decision - the money or the gold medal.' And it's going to be a real test of character.

“There is no doubt the suit makes a difference and there is no doubt that there is one manufacturer that's put millions into research while the other manufacturers are more into fashion. Nobody at this level [world-class athletes] can afford to give up 2 per cent. It is not rocket science. ...” -- Mark Schubert


[Now the change of opinion]

"It's totally out of control,'' Mark Schubert, USA swimming's national team director, told me by telephone Monday. ``Now we're into speedboat driving.''

"It would be pretty unfair if a record was set in a suit that becomes illegal and was determined to give a decisive competitive [advantage]," Schubert said. ``But the saddest thing is we no longer are able to [compare] generations. Swimming should be about the swimmer, not the suit."


With all this said, the best part about it, and I am sure both sides of the argument can agree, swimming is being talked about and people want to see what these suits look like.

The photo above comes from the Geelong Advertiser. The article is entitled: Libby Trickett, Eamon Sullivan the fastest swimmers on earth!


Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

Thanks for the post sir...!!

The Real Anonymous.... :)

Tony Austin said...

I am thanking you for you made me look less stupid! :-D

maly said...

craig lord reported that marc shubert asked for all world record since febuary 2008 should be marked with an asterisk . wow that is what i call backpedaling !!!!

Tony Austin said...

I saw your comment and I had to figure out where Craig "heard" that. It is in USA Today, and I followed up on it. Thanks Maly. :-D

Glenn said...

Fantastic. My oldest brother trained with Shirley for a couple summers. I remember him sending us a box from Cali to Ohio... in that little box contained one of the first "skinsuits". I also remember the excitement I felt with this cool new tool... it was about the same as I felt when I put on my first FastSkin, and then BlueSeventy. From the looks of things, at least in my lifetime, those experiences will be ending soon. I can't imagine I'm going to be that excited by putting on a "bluer" FastSkin in the near future.

Does my desire for "excitement" in technology disqualify me as a "purest"? ;)

The Screaming Viking! said...

Tony-- I put a couple of links to your recent stuff in my latest blog. Great work. Thanks for giving the 1972 article some good press. I think everyone needs to read it. My favorite parts are about federations legitimately pushing for nude racing and the prognostication that we might end up swimming in sprayed on rubber suits someday. ha!
the most amazing part is that schubert was part of that article and is still at the center of it today!

Tony Austin said...

Thank you, I am very flattered. BTW, I am hearing rumors you are about to branch out again swim-wise into something very exciting. Please send us an email when you are ready to talk about it.

Anonymous said...

Who cares whether someone "backpedals" or not?

The issue should be if they are making the correct decision for the sport.

Speedo let the "camels nose under the tent" with the Lazer. They should not act high and mighty.

An asterisk by the records in these suits is correct.