Friday, July 29, 2011

Since when did FINA establish something called a "textile best?"

A team member of mine sent me the following observation:
"... I'm reading Swimming World reports of the 2011 FINA World Championship results. When did FINA establish something called a "textile best?" it seems the only phrase the mag knows. Is there an agenda?..."
YES! I think so! - Without world records there has been way less press and that means less interest. Hence, rhetorical devices such as "beat the American textile best, swam on top of the world textile best," are a cheap gimmick of making the performance sound more special thereby by degrading the previous effort that set a world record.

Swim bloggers who have grabbed onto these phrases following the lead of the swim press continue to hurt swimmers who have legally set world records in tech suits.

When a swimmer crosses the finish line "fair & square" and sets a world record, they are entitled to that record without any qualifications or asterisks therein.

For instance, my team member went on to say better than I could:
"...It reminds me of the controversy when Roger Maris broke Ruth's single season home run record. They wanted an asterisk because it was a 162 game season not the 154 when Ruth played. However, it is the "single season" record just as the swim records are as simple as who navigated the waters from one end of the pool to the other in less time, for as many lengths as the race is. To wit, there are not two categories of 100 meter free records, one with and one without. ..."
The best thing that ever happened to swimming was the tech suit. Read that last sentence as MORE press, MORE Television, MORE exposure. The best thing that ever happened to a professional swimmers' bank account was the tech suit. Ask yourself how many American swimmers are making more than $100K. Can you say only two or so?

Consequently, future swimmers will be hurt financially as well for Governing Bodies don't pay WR bonuses for "textile records" only for world records and I bet they like that.


hydro said...

Before FINA and ASCA start bumming on "textile" times, they ought to recognize "Original" stroke rule records. Breast, back and fly have all had substantial rule changes that add up to seconds. How is it we were ever allowed to turn onto the belly for a back turn. How did back get this right and fly still requires a 2 hand touch, thus eliminating a flip turn? ..why?? because fly would become the primer stroke.

Tony Austin said...

Again and again I am proven how much smarter my readers are than I am.

I can't even say "great minds think alike" for I never thought of that.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog, but as a professional swimmer, I can assure you tech suits were not the best thing to happen to us. My contract, and several others, were actually cut from our apparel company thanks to the amount of world record bonuses they were paying out to their American and worldwide athletes. It is much more stable for the "athletic economy" if 100 athletes can have apparel deals with base salaries rather than 10 making a killing on bonuses and the rest of us getting cut because they claim they can't afford us. If you ask any sports agent now they'll tell you that thanks to the tech suit debacle, most contracts are now geared toward bonuses rather than base, and that's not comfortable for athletes nor sustainable for very many.

Anonymous said...

I will never quite see eye to eye with you on this issue but you do make good points and all in all (IMHO) the suits were a good thing for swimming overall.

Rather than keep pointing out tech suit and textile eras and discounting previous accomplishments, I wish people would draw attention to those exceptional world records done without the most fancy suits. The current world records might last a little longer than they "should" but we'll get there eventually.

Here are my nominations:
Kate Zeigler 1500 (2007 in a speedo textile suit right after altitude training)

Grant Hackett 1500 (2001? in an addidas? full body lycra)

Aaron Peirsol 100 back (2009 legs only speedo?)

Aaron Peirsol 200 back (2009 legs only speedo?)

Isnt this hypocritical of me by qualifying these suits? Maybe but we should keep in mind that there is no perfectly level playing field anywhere ever.

Tony Austin said...

I am presuming everything you say is true.

Would you like to make an anonymous guest blog about the subject or may I publish your comment as a separate post?

Tony Austin said...

It's my belief that this sport is a mess in the United States. It is blossoming in Asia, and respectable in Europe.

By qualifying times to me looks like a desperate gimmick to drum up interest.

Imagine putting an asterisk by the first person to beat Johnny Weismuller's 100-free time because he wasn't wearing wool.

hydro said...

Exactly Tony.

Anonymous said...

Not exactly. I actually appreciate the "textile suit" qualifier, as it signals to me a race done without that special technology. To me it means a race where the swimmer's technique and training prevailed, not the scientists behind the suit. Imagine runners wearing suits that went beyond reducing drag, as textile does, and actually lifted them in the air to help propulsion. Would you celebrate that?

Anonymous said...

I would be happy to provide an anonymous guest blog. I apologize not being able to add a name but unfortunately it would not sit well with sponsors.

Tony Austin said...

I would. I celebrate their shoes too. Look how much they have changed over the years.

Tony Austin said...

Thank you, I am very flattered.

The best way to maintain complete anonymity would to pick an obscure post in my archives, post a comment there that is your guest piece, it will show up in my mailbox and I will post it.

I will not know who you are and there is no mechanism in place via blogger or Google analytics to out your identity either.

Thank you. When "facts" change,Let's se what you got. :-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, and US Track and Field has banned certain shoes with springboard technology. Lighter shoes, fine. More streamlined textile suits, fine. But it crosses a line when the technology actually acts as a propeller.

Tony Austin said... about tennis rackets, bicycles, carbon fiber golf clubs and other sports innovation?

No asterisks in those sports.

Anonymous said...

Those sports don't exist without their equipment.

Swimming is about what a human can do, not what a human with a piece of equipment can do.

Tony Austin said...

look at a running shoe circa 1900 versus today.

Anonymous said...

And look at a swimsuit from back then. Not opposed to modernizing suits; the aim has been to make it as close to swimming naked without actually doing so. But i am opposed to going beyond that in a way that questions whether a performance is due to the suit or the swimmer. 37 world records in '09 worlds? come on.

Tony Austin said...

I just posted a statement: A professional swimmer will "school" me on tech suits, apparel companies, and USA Swimming!

Part One tomorrow.

The article is awesome and is a "mind changer" in many ways.

Thank you so much for writing it! :-D