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lefteh's avatar

Do you think the Speedo LZR swim outfit should be permissible?

Asked by lefteh (9351 points ) June 30th, 2008

In case you haven’t been following this controversy, here is a good overview article.
In short, Speedo and NASA teamed up to design a swim outfit that essentially eliminates all drag. The suit has been approved by FISA, the governing body of swimming. It is expected to aid the performance of many swimmers at the Olympics this year, and has already been used to set 38 world record thus far this year.

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17 Answers

playthebanjo's avatar

I think that all sports should be competed in naked.

lefteh's avatar

Correction: FINA is the governing body of swimming, not FISA.
I’ve got Congressional politics on my mind.

dland's avatar

Yes, of course: technology advances and each athlete competes mainly against the athletes of the current Olympiad, not every athlete that went before them, even if records are kept.

As discussed below the linked overview article, the accomplishments of any given generation must be measured against competitors in that generation. The ancient Greeks competed nude, as playthebanjo suggests, and the suits worn by Duke Kahanamoku don’t compare to those worn by, say, Jim Montgomery in 1976, which don’t compare to the LZR suits of 2008.

Technology advances, giving each new generation advantages not enjoyed by previous generations. Should we insist that athletes follow the dining and training regimens of past generations as well?

Runners’ shoes, too, have advanced tremendously over the history of the modern Olympics—should the member of the US 2008 team be forced to run in the same style of shoes that Jesse Owens wore in 1936? I think not.

robhaya's avatar

There was an interesting article in the WSJ over the weekend about Adolph Kiefer, who is a pioneer in the swim industry and Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming. He feels that the suits provide artificial bouncy and should be outlawed in competition.

marinelife's avatar

If they aid buoyancy (as opposed to bouncy), I would feel differently about them than I would if they were just more aerodynamic. Obviously, if it does not require your own muscle effort to stay afloat that changes the sport itself significantly.

robhaya's avatar

Thanks Marina for pointing out my typo! I meant to type buoyancy.
R

dland's avatar

So does body fat, by the way: it adds buoyancy.

And bouncy :-).

Bri_L's avatar

Much to the arguement dland pointed out, I cite polevaulting. When they changed from strait poling to fiberglass poles. Huge difference. I think advances are part of the game. In the end the suits are nothing that everyone can’t get.

Eureka's avatar

As a former competition swimmer, I was really interested when I heard about this suit. Seems the IOC tested it, and found that it does not artifically increases bouyancy, so they allowed it. Speedo has already improved upon the suit – the next model will have seams that are somehow bonded at a molecture level, so there will be no seams at all. The only teams complaining are the ones that have signed endorcement contracts with other swimsuit companies, and cannot wear the lazer. Another question – I read that it takes 45 minutes to get into the full body suit, and I know from personal experience how hard it is to pull up a wet swim suit. So, how do they go to the bathroom?

Bri_L's avatar

that would be the smaller churning pool just off cameras.

Poppet's avatar

Seeing the archery competition yesterday made me think of this situation. Have you seen the bows that they are using in it? Wow! You can’t say that having the kind of technology that they are using doesn’t make a difference in their abilities,either. We have to accept that technology is going to improve things—and be able to accept change, but still, if you aren’t a superb athlete in the first place all the technology in the world isn’t going to make an iota of difference. Those swimmers still spend hours upon hours in the pool, training to be the best, and the suits are just a technological tool, like the bows in archery.
OH, and Olympians—they don’t HAVE to go the bathroom!

ideabrian's avatar

I think they should allow the LZR.

I like the technology advances. I’m just bored with the events. I think the synchro divers should have to pick some rings off the bottom of the pool. I mean, we have cameras. Wouldn’t it be very entertaining to see them perform a 3.5 back flip with a twist and then make to the bottom of the pool to gather two or three weighted rings?

What’s the rush to get into the shower?

Bri_L's avatar

I heard some more good points. One, the suits only work if your going a certain speed fast enough. Two, you can put Tigers clubs in someone else’s hands and they are not Tiger. In the end, the time the suit saves wont compensate for the years of training and effort the athlete puts in. It isn’t like steroids.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

The best answer I heard to this question came from a competitor at the world championships (I don’t remember who it) who said “Funny, I threw the LAZR in the pool and it just floated there.” The point, of course, is that the suit doesn’t swim by itself.

Bri_L's avatar

@ sueanne T – excellent!

JeffVader's avatar

I dont think any athlete should be allowed to gain an advantage due to a piece of technology used during the event. Basically I think everyone should be given the same equipment to use for the tournament so it all comes down to the athlete.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

If they allow steroids to be used by those nations that cannot afford such expensive high-tech suits. It is a de facto high-tech steroid that can be slipped on, slightly different than having it in your blood, if you ask me.

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