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How Arena X Glide, Speedo LZR, Jared, Blue Seventy, FINA and NASA killed swimming

Posted Jul 28 2009 10:06pm

Phelps It seems just a couple of years ago that talented young swimmers would spend years chasing the black line down the pool lane in hopes of dropping a second or two when it came to race day.

OK, so it was just a couple of years ago that Speedo opened the Pandora' s Box when, with the help of NASA  of all things, the Australian company designed and introduced the LZR speed suit.

Take a look at the quaint video below from the early days as the world is still all excited about the prospects of the new faster and revolutionary swimsuit.

Now fast forward to today and well over 100 new swimming world records later, and no one is excited.

Not the swimmers

Not the coaches

Not FINA, the governing body of swimming

and not even the new world record holders.

When Germany' s Paul Biedermann won the men' s 200-meter freestyle decisively beating Michael Phelps he said about his Arena X Glide swimsuit:

"Yes, it makes me faster, of course," Biedermann said in his imperfect English, and added, "What I have to do? FINA allowed it. It' s not my problem."

In other words, he knows that he beat Phelps not because he' s faster, but because he wore a faster swimsuit.

The question that many insiders are scratching their heads about is why Phelps choose to swim in the now "old school" slower LZR Speedo?

Was it a contractual obligation to Speedo or was it just pride?

Either way in a sport that' s all about world records Phelps bet wrong and lost big.

FYI: The new swimsuits are faster because they are both more slippery and more buoyant.

Much much faster.

According to Universal Sports:

"In just one year, Biedermann has dropped four full seconds from his 200 time. He went 1:46 flat at the Olympics, good only for fifth.

The improvement is even more dramatic when contrasted with Biedermann' s best 2007 time, 1:48.09.

That means Biedermann has cut more than six seconds in two short years in a race that doesn' t even run to two minutes. In elite swimming, that traditionally has proven improbable without something more.

The something more, assuming nothing undue, is obviously the suit."

Fina has just announced that starting next year it will ban all of the new high tech swimsuits which it recently approved.

Talk about closing the barn door after the cows have gotten out.

Which makes the video below, from the days of wine, roses and new LZR swimsuit, all the more funny.

Follow on twitter @ everymantri

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