Friday, July 17, 2009

Libby Tricket: "A deal is a deal" - Will wear the Speedo LZR at Worlds!

Libby Trickett tried on a "polyurethane" suit and suddenly had an anti-speedsuit epiphany; but why didn't this epiphany occur when she tried on the LZR?

Remember when the LZR came out how times dropped fantastically? Why then was it the swimmer and not the suit?

Why then was a suit not a weapon?

With Schubert, Thompson, and now Trickett who have seemingly seen a "burning bush" once their employer started getting spanked in the pool by lesser capitalized but more innovative companies, the same talking points are repeated over and over by those athletes in Speedo employ.

From Nicole Jeffrey in the Australian:

" 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.


My take: Then wear the best suit - the suits are free for you and there are several manufacturers making polyurethane and Chloroprene suits: TYR, blueseventy, Arena, Jaked, FINIS, Rocket Science on ad infinitum.

Actually when you think about it, it's just Speedo that is not trying to make a better polyurethane suit for that is what the panels on the LZR are, they are polyurethane.

Look, this is 2009. Everything has evolved from clothes, to automobiles to sports. The polyurethane suits are as thin as Lycra, which was thinner than nylon, which was thinner than wool.

Lycra was once a weapon, poly-lycra folowed, then Teflon-coated poly-lycra, etc...etc... Would these swimmers utter the same content if they were employed by the suits they fear?


maly said...

it is karma speaking libby ! last year you didn't care about the suit situation when the other swimmers not under speedo were tring to get their hands on the lzr in time for beijjing ,i didn't hear your concern about the suits. the other compagnies only reacted in order not to disapear . where was the australian federation when some europeen swimming federations were angry at speedo for launching the lzr in april 2008 a too short time for them to get orgernize and provide the best for their swimmers.

Tony Austin said...

Yeah, Damn straight! The only countries that go hooked up with LZRs were the countries Speedo controls, Australia and USA Swimming.

This will all be sorted out in court next Spring between the two of them and TYR

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

We said...agree with you totally!

Describing these other suit companies as "innovative" is right on!! Sure does fly in the face of the Speedo Marketing machine model.

Developed at NASA....really???

Tony Austin said...

Do not take this reply as ad hominen...

Innovation: Process by which an idea or invention is translated into a good or service for which people will pay. To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need.

Those suit companies competing against the LZR brought products to market that are faster, better cheaper or comparable in price.

In my opinion that qualifies as innovation.

TedBaker said...

The mistake was made allowing the LZR. Now, we're compounding it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

Even when I try to agree with's not possible...

Tony Austin said...

Libby Trickett didn't think it was a mistake until her records in the LZR were threatened

Tony Austin said...

Anonymous, I am sorry I thought you being sarcastic. My bad.

Scott said...

"My take: Then wear the best suit". Sounds simple but then forget about having swimsuit sponsorships. That's something that directly contradicts what you've been saying about how much more money these suits will be bringing into swimming. The evidence is becoming overwhelming - these suits are throwing elite swimming into a turmoil. More perceptive individuals spotted this as soon as the LZR Racer was introduced. You're way behind the curve in realizing the immense damage these suits are doing to the sport.

Tony Austin said...

Here is the deal: "You live by the sword, you die by the sword." I commend her for staying in the LZR but if you are going to complain that your sponsors suit is ineffectual then it is your job to resign or never even utter those words in the first place.

I don't see any contradiction. For instance - Which car is faster, Cadillac CTS or an Audi Quattro? Both have V8s.

According to Top Gear BBC:

The CTS owned it handling wise and speed wise! However, I bet I would drive a Quattro better than a CTS.

I am going to drop a bomb: Only people that read this thread will know: They have been swimmer momentum tests done on the suits and each has a quirk. I don't know what these results are but I know who did the test.

Now, since each suit has a quirk; (Sorry that you have to take my word for it), each person in a suit will react differently.

Here is an example: Rob of Rob Aquatics swims faster butterfly in a tracer light than he does in a b70 as an example.

Anonymous said...

tony, i dont think speedo could ever win with you. they're either damned if they do, or damned if they dont.

TedBaker said...

The quirk is the reason they have to go.

I'll what I've said before: There are two conditions that must be fulfilled for the speedsuits to stay:

1.) The suit design must stabilize. In a sport where every variable is controlled - from water temperature and depth to the distance of the event to the very stroke itself - you can not allow the entrance of piece of equipment that can advantage one athlete versus the next by even as much as 1%.

2.) There must be a sensible and simple way to test and check the suits at the meets. And, remember, that simple and sensible way has to translate down to age group meets where there are - many times - more than 1,000 participants.

These suits are amazing and, I must confess, I've converted a couple of my old times, trying to account for their effect. It would a ton of fun to swim that fast! That being said, right now, under the current system - more accurately, the absence of any system - they are damaging the sport.

Steve said...

If you were swimming at Rome, how would you choose which suit to race in? You could try out each suit and see which one feels best, but then you're making a choice viscerally. You would really need to make a choice based on quantitative metrics. But we don't have the experimental methods at this point to reliably determine the speed advantage from each suit with any decent amount of accuracy. A single hundredth of a second is enough to go from silver to gold (just ask Cavic), and it's impossible to measure which suit is faster down to that level of accuracy. Consequently, if you were to lose a race by a hundredth of a second to someone wearing a different suit, there will always exist the question of whether or not the result would've been different had you worn a different suit. Why introduce all of this complexity to the sport when we can just keep it simple?

In regards to the changes in attitudes of Speedo sponsored athletes, this is just a natural consequence of corporate sponsorship and the influence of money. On the one hand you seem to be championing the increase in corporate sponsorships, yet disparaging those who show the natural symptoms of being influenced by large sums of money.

Tony Austin said...

Anonymous, yes you are right, I am prejudice towards Speedo. I am biased. They can't win with me unless they change how they do business with te NGB's and FINA

Tony Austin said...

The testing was done on the suits - I really want to see it too and I believe this would answer a lot of questions.

Tony Austin said...

I do greatly encourage corporate sponsorship but I disparage those that complain or bite the hand that feeds them stating their suits are ineffectual.

If a suit choice is vital to your career success. Either "marry" the right suit, or get different sponsors like Stephanie Rice and wear the suit you want.

I agree, Steve, I have odd morals.

TedBaker said...


How do you square the circle? How can the suit manufacturers sponsor athletes and put more money into the sport if you say the athletes should not tie themselves to a suit manufacturer lest they choose the "wrong" one?

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

Not sure what a "momentum test" means, but if you are referring to velocity decay measurements using push-offs and glide for distance, that is not close to reliable.

However, there are two people currently in the US that I know about that have measurement devices that can output very reliable swim suit drag data.

Tony Austin said...

What I am saying is that if you sign a contract, a deal is a deal. If you pick the wrong suit and took the money, you have to take responsibility and fulfill your obligations despite the consequences.

If you can't live with your decision if a better sit comes out, you must conduct your career like Stephanie Rice, choose sponsors outside the suit industry.

Tony Austin said...

Is one of them Dr G.?

TedBaker said...

Tony - Stephi Rice has the ability to look for sponsorship outside traditional sources because of her times and abilities in the pool. (Also because she's photogenic, but that's a whole other story.) When she started, though, she relied on a suit sponsor for at least part of her income.

How does a lesser known swimmer get started if, as you note, they should stay away from striking deals with the suit manufacturers less they choose the wrong one?

It's very easy to say "Go get sponsors outside of the of the traditional swimming market." It's very hard - and not particular well paying - to do, especially for the athletes even one tier below individuals like Ms. Rice.

Scott said...

Tony, can you not see the serious flaws in your logic? If elite swimmers can’t accept swimsuit sponsors because of fears it may hurt future competitiveness how can the new suits bring extra money into the sport? Do you realize by coming out and stating “If you pick the wrong suit and took the money, you have to take responsibility and fulfill your obligations despite the consequences” you’re tacitly supporting the concept that natural talent should be secondary to the suit he or she wears? That defies common sense. No swimsuit manufacturer wants to force somebody to wear their logo when they have an inferior product. The only result will be bad publicity. That’s why Speedo released their sponsored athletes from wearing Speedo at the upcoming World Championships. Ultimately every swimsuit manufacturer is going to realize it makes better economic sense to transfer their entire sponsorship budget over into R&D and concentrate on trying to develop the fastest suit in the pool. When every world-class swimmer is forced by the competition to adopt the fastest suit available anyways why bother paying them? The pressures these technosuits now put on swimmers to adopt or get out are eerily similar to the effects of performance enhancing drugs. That these suits have been a catastrophe for swimming has been recognized by practically everyone except FINA’s old guard and the swimsuit manufacturers. When are you going to see the light?

Tony Austin said...

Your questions are valid and if I was advising a young American swimmer I would say whichever suit they chose, to stand by it.

That is one's responsibility as a paid endorser. To be loyal in other words despite the consequences.

Tony Austin said...

If my logic is flawed I am not seeing it.

You as a person have to have the character in that your word is first, your talent comes second if you are to be a paid endorser.

I have worked directly and indirectly with actors, PR People, advertising and marketing firms my whole life.

My client list includes Disney, Amgen, Washington Mutual, Vodafone, SFR, Orange, ATT, Sprint and even alcohol products I regret doing work for. I won't name celebrities.

My mentor once told me, never hire a celebrity to endorse your product for in a drunken or vain moment they complain about the quality of the product, millions of dollars of ad money is down the drain.

Said celebrity will be unreliable as a paid endorser moving forward. Both parties lose.

That is my logic.

If Libby is locked into a suit deal and her sponsor says wear what you want, that is her decision but in my opinion, she would be a risk to resign or hire away for the true winner is the free endorsement she gave a competing suit which cost nothing.

It also hurt the brand that took care of her and states she is chasing the money.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

Don't let Scott kid you...there is very little "R&D" money going on with any of these suits! Why do you think so many companies have jumped into the market.

I go back to what I said in an eariler post...

"Developed at NASA"...really???

Still have not seen any concrete proof...

Tony Austin said...

Thanks,I needed that. :-)

Anonymous said...

i am kind of agreeing with different people on this issue...

i believe that swimmers SHOULD stay with their sponsors. i think of these sponsors as "teams." if people are signing contracts with speedo/TYR/arena, and then wearing a different suit, its like they are switching teams. it reminds me of professional baseball, basketball, and football players. i find it hard to follow these mainstream sports because the roster changes every year. i loose my respect for these athletes because they have no
loyalty to their teams an fellow players.

can you imagine if an american swimmer would compete at the olympics for another country? because they have a better coach, relay, or they wanted their shot at fame? i believe this happened at the last olympics? didnt canada offer dual citizenship to swimmers who didnt make the american team? i would have lost all respect for any american who would have swapped countries. that is NOT the spirit of the olympics! i find this comparable to the suit issue.

but then again, swimmers NEED to be successful to make money. i believe swimmers deserve more money than basketball, baseball, and football players make! and in order to do this, they need as much publicity as possible to interest new investors. swimming is still not a mainstream sport, so this is difficult.

i would just have to say this is a very tricky subject.

Anonymous said...

this issue reminds me of Ciroc Vodka and P. Diddy, who only drinks Patron Tequila.

Anonymous said...

Why are you so harsh on Libby.

As for the LZR -yes she was included in the trialling -along with phelps & Coughlin- plus she ndorses Speedo recreational wear & does Speedo community stuff.

As for her times -they have not reduced by the LZR -she was 52.9 in a Fastskin , @4 & 57.1 in fastskin .

She is one swimmer that the LZR did not enhance.

Libby is multiple world champ & has undeserved vitriol from both Lord & Gary Hall Junior bith called her naive & worse.

The Lady owns this issue at least as much as anybody else.

plus she has never ccused anyone of drugs.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

If you want to really see how history repeats itself, check out this link from 1974..!!

Tony Austin said...

The SI article! WOW! - I like the part about the Speedo executive saying the "new suits are gross!"

As for switching teams, that is exactly how I feel too.

As for Saan Combs, Why is he famous? HE has no credibility.

I am harsh on Libby because she back peddled on suits. WHen she was wearing the LZR and the LZR was considered the de facto best, she was pro suits, now she wants to go back to 2007 when her suit has become irrelevant.

Scott said...

You're dodging the issue Tony, and the Anonymous commenter who agrees with you has completely missed the point. I agree 100% with the ethics you espouse - the question posed in my comment above, however, is whether athletes should place their swimming careers at risk in order to be sponsored? Personally if that transpires (and in my opinion it already has) it would elevate the suit to near parity with talent, a reality I oppose very much indeed. Regarding Anonymous' counterpoint about the effectiveness of today's small investments in R&D I can only point out that budgetary concerns are irrelevant to my argument. The concern is with suit selection becoming more and more determined by a particular suit's performance attributes paying an athlete significant monies to wear something they will wear anyways has declining marginal utility.

By the way experience has shown that while small R&D budgets often suffice during the introduction phase of new technology future advancements require ever more larger investments of capital - witness Microsoft and Formula 1. This is nothing but one giant sinkhole opening up under Swimming.

Tony Austin said...

Yes, they should put their swimming careers' at stake if it means that their reputations' and the ability to endorse future products would be in question.

A deal is a deal but Libby wants it both ways. She wants to eat her cake and have it too."

She wants to respect her contract yet explain why her suit is inferior to justify any loss she suffers. Then she says all suits should be banned back to 2007 obviously to put her at an advantage. She was pro-LZR when the advantage was hers and the suits were scarce.

Consequently she may lose twice; both in the pool and in future endorsement deals. I predict swim suit companies will now have a STFU clause in their contracts.

So, if you are there to win, you choose the best suit. If you are there to make money, you take the most money. If you are there to do both, then, like an Hollywood actor you choose your "roles" very carefully since you are only as good as your last movie and as swimmer is only as good as their last PR.

maly said...

did libby form a club with rebbecca adlington: rebbecca said that the swimmers wearing the new suits are cheating . last she won gold wearing the lzr , i am fed up with the australian and english swimmers whinning now about the suit when last year we didn't see them complain and offering support to the swimmers when they were tring to get the lzr in time for beijing. some of the british team are dissing joanne jackson for diciding to wear her personal sponsor addidas new suit . i say good on her .

maly said...

oops i forgot the link to rebecca interviw:

Scott said...

I agree completely with you Tony about sticking with your sponsor through thick and thin - but that's not what's at issue. Should today's swimmers be faced with having to make this choice? Should the new suits be banned? I think so - and it's a growing consensus in the swimming world these suits have to go to send swimming back to relying on natural talent and hard work. The sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.

P.S. Out of curiosity what would you do if you were an elite Olympian and were faced with choosing a swimsuit sponsor whose design might be obsolete in a year's time? Is it practical to have one year sponsorships?

Anonymous said...

Well, I have to respectfully disagree with you again Scott. These swim suit companies pay really marginal money, so none of these athletes standard of living is going to be affected high or low whether they are sponsored or not by swim suit companies. And in the current environment, it doesn’t seem very smart.

Just like swimming evolved in the last 4 years into more a professional sport, swimming athletes will eventually evolve just like in tennis or NASCAR. They will attract multiple sponsors from companies like Coke, or Home Depot...etc

If any current swimmer wants to learn how it done sponsorship wise, they should have a long talk with Martina Maracova. She has sponsorships with companies all over Europe, is living quite comfortably, and doen't need a swim company sporsorship to put bread on her table!

Tony Austin said...

Scott, first off your question has been posed to somebody who has turned down speed suits, wetsuits, clinics, books, sunscreen, and food & drink. I am really a bad person to ask your hypothetical question to.

If I was a pro swimmer and I looked terrific, and swam fast etc, etc... I probably got that way due to and overwhelming desire and both good genes and coaching.

The desire to win and be the best is probably why I am at the Olympics. I am a contender but not a 'Phelps.'

The money now is the "pay-off" so to speak for now I have a constituency rooting for me and sponsors are interested.

I would say I want $2-million or I won't do it and take the lost opportunity if a sponsor laughed me out of their office.

The gold medal would mean more to me than $200,000 which is probably the average for a swimmer who can make the finals.

Should swimmers have one year contracts? No, They should do one meet contracts if they want to protect their careers and bank accounts.

Scott said...

An apt observation about sponsorships and the fact they don't have to come from swimsuit manufacturers Anonymous. My problem is I try to be too clever by half and use rather oblique references to encourage Tony to confess his earlier stated belief that these technosuits will be bringing in lots of new money into the sport was wrong. Unfortunately he studiously refuses to address the issue. Personally speaking I've been one of the "skin" crowd from the very beginning and believe having a lot less suit would create a better image (and more sponsorship dollars) than the current anonymous slick bindings we see standing on top of the blocks.

P.S. If you're the same Anonymous who thinks that Canada might have been offering dual citizenships for Olympians last year I can say you are very mistaken. While there are several well heeled but athletically deficient countries who approached world class American talent and offered them the chance to swim in the Olympics for another country (the Gulf States for example) Canada is not one of them. We have our own home grown talent and a long, long Olympic tradition thank you very much.

Tony Austin said...

The technosuits have brought money into the Sport. b70 is sponsoring all sorts of open water races and athletes like Rowdy and Marteen!

Since when has a masters swimming been sponsored by a suit compnay in a big way?

Anonymous said...

What is it with you Masters guys.

You can wear anything you like -in fact the more you cover up your flesh the better. It simply does not matter if a 50 year old goes 65sec or 67 secs for a 100.

But you are not anywhere in the same realm as elite swimmers.

You are still bagging Libby when you do not know all of what she has had to say on this issue for you are in the USA. You only hear/read part of it.

You have not replied to my point that Liby's times were not accelerated by the LZR. She was already WC for 50 100 free & 100 fly.

She had a 24.1 & 52.9 & 1.57 (2005 200mtrs) + 26 .1 & 57.1 fly in 2007.

It is a bit sad that an old slow man is hitting a successful fast young lady.

Anonymous said...

Anyhow you now have a new target. Melissa Gorman won the 5k in a ?????

Note that Aust Open Water Swim Team is sponsored by B70 but she chose LZR .

Are you going to criticize another young lady ?

You are tossing your gentleman manners away all for a swimsiut argument.

Such a shame & bye bye.

Erik said...

As usual - Scott could not be more wrong ....

The problem here is not with new suits - the problem really is that Speedo has left its swimmers in this situation. No swimsuit will have as big an impact on a swimmer than a bike has on a cyclist. Bikes are probably 10 times more expensive than swimsuits. Why don't we see these whining in cycling and triathlon ???

The USMS sponsor is Blue 70 - that is a sponsorship deal that was totally impossible 2 years ago. More companies = more sponsoring, it's that simple.

Speedo just missed the boat for this year ...

Erik said...

"P.S. Out of curiosity what would you do if you were an elite Olympian and were faced with choosing a swimsuit sponsor whose design might be obsolete in a year's time? Is it practical to have one year sponsorships? "

Obviously you have to push your sponsor to give you the best material -- how is it possible that Speedo has left their swimmers behind ???

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

Dear Scott…I am not the Anonymous from Canada, and have great respect for Canadian swimmers. The most polite country of people I have ever met!

Tony…I still agree with you….!!

Erik…none of these suit companies left anyone behind. If you haven’t got the memo by now, there isn’t any real testing…R&D…etc going on here. All of the new generation of suits are basically the same. (full body - neoprene) That’s why so many new companies have released new suits. Sew some neoprene into a full body and let the perfect storm of marketing frenzy do the work. It’s the copy cat syndrome personified, and they are all really scrambling.

In today’s climate, if Tony and I produced a full body suit called the “Stealth Triton” using “PumpJet” technology, and one good swimmer did well in it…suddenly all the other suits would be old technology. I will repeat myself for the third time: “Developed at NASA…really???

Tony: One request…please post some paragraphs from that Sports Illustrated article from 1974, from the link I left above. It would really show how little things have changed in the swimming world, and even some of the same people from today…making some of the same comments.

Tony Austin said...

I promise - It is going to be my next post.

Scott said...

Okay guys - in long threads we need some names other than Anonymous or it gets really difficult to respond to your points.

To "Australian" Anonymous: We Masters swimmers are very aware of our limitations as swimmers, certainly much more so than the general public. Tony is certainly not slamming Libby for her skills and work ethic but rather on her abrupt change from praising the new suits to wanting out when competitors start appearing with newer, faster designs. So the fact that wearing the Speedo LZR didn't help her perceptibly isn't diputed. Speaking personally it was noted early on that many at the very pinnacle of swimming didn't gain much from the suits. Michael Phelps and a few others have mostly avoided wearing the full body suit. Gary Hall Jr. is on record as saying that after extensive testing he found the LZR didn't help him at all. It suggests the suits have a disproportionate effect amongst swimmers and benefits those with weaker core strength. I, one of the "purists" or "luddites" actually applaud Libby's change of heart; Tony, on the side of "technology is inevitable" crowd, is distraught one of their keynote speakers has changed sides.

Scott said...

To "Sports Illustrated" Anonymous:
don't worry about people not following the link to the article you found. It was fascinating (I spent half an hour on the 'net trying to find a picture or video of a girl (even East German) in a wet Belgrade suit). The type of individual who frequents a blog this arcane follows suggested links, doubly so after Tony highlighted its pertinence to this subject.

Tony Austin said...

That I can admit to: I am distraught that Libby back-peddled and that I lost her!

Scott said...

To those who aren't aware of my blogging relationship with Eric I’ve taken a very aggressive stand that Dara Torres is a product of doping, an individual who Eric thinks is above criticism by the likes of me. Eric, a former Olympian himself, does not appreciate obscure Master swimmers challenging his betters. Yet every time when he tries to dismiss my arguments Eric continually runs into serious problems with his own rebuttals. Like his argument the problem doesn't lie with the suits but with Speedo not keeping up with the evolution of the sport. That of course presupposes the new technosuits are good for the sport or even legal under FINA rules. Amazingly he attempts to shore up his argument with comparisons to cycling and tennis – sports defined by their implements – not like swimming which is supposed to be free of any device. And, as pointed out earlier, devices to assist swimming or affect speed have always been illegal in swimming. Even minions such as myself have been pointing out this minor problem with the new technosuits, me personally starting with a post titled "Could the LZR Racer Be Illegal"

Just as easily dismissed is Eric’s assertion that more swimsuit manufacturers equals more money. While the concept is plausible, at least for the first few years when the costs of entry into the sport because of the introduction of new technology remain low, over time natural competitive forces and technological cost will prune the numbers down. Even this assumption can be challenged as ultimately it’s advertising budgets which determine the flow of money into and out of a sport ... and I have to wonder whether the budgets of B70 and Jaked even match the recent departure of Nike and Adidas from the sport, much less exceed them.

Scott said...

Oh yea - if anybody out there knows where to find a picture or video of a wet Belgrade suit on the internet I'd be every so grateful. I've been imaging what they must look like for a year now and it's an annoying itch I'd certainly like to scratch.

Tony Austin said...

Like the Maltese Falcon the Belgrade suit, and a photo of Gwen Stefani swimming 'fly is the stuff dreams are made of!

It just a dream, a myth - they are gone, poof! Like Keyser Söze: