The controversial high tech swimming suits have been in the sporting news since the Beijing Olympic Games, and have undoubtedly aided swimmers to achieved 108 world records since the Speedo LZR Racer was introduced in February 2008. Athletes have always looked for any advantage they can get over their competition, usually within the rules. The current rules enable athletes to wear these suits, which basically make them more streamlined, reducing resistance in the water. Although it is within the rules to wear these suits, is it really any different to doping, which also artificially assist the performance of athletes?
If not all athletes can afford to have a suit, those that can’t are disadvantaged. But so are those athletes that cannot afford to have their own coach or access to quality pool facilities or gym training equipment By making money one of the prerequisites for success in swimming, it becomes an elite sport that is only available for the elite, and I am sure that world swimming body would not be happy with that. The suits are currently banned, at least in Australia, for all junior competition. FINA is currently meeting to decide what to do about it, and let’s hope that they ban it completely. When athletes compete against each other, we want to know who is the best swimmer, not who can afford to be.
FINA decided on these regulations to be in place from the World Championships in 2009: (1) Suit no more than 1 mm thick (2) suits not to extend past the shoulders or ankles (3) no tailored suits (4) no more than one suit at a time.