Randall Bal clocked a world long-course record 24.33sec over 50m backstroke at the Dutch Swim Cup in Eindhoven tonight. The standard had stood to Brit Liam Tancock at 24.47 since nationals and Olympic trials in March this year.
Bal's effort was a nice way to celebrate the retirement of local and world swimming hero Pieter van den Hoogenband. Pity in this technology-driven times that it is not possible to cheer on the 92nd world record of the year with a song in the heart. And that is tragic for Bal, coach and head of the ADN Project, Andrea di Nino, and the sport of swimming.
The meet in Holland includes suit inspections. Not for Bal. He's American. But any Dutch who set a time that may qualify then for Rome 2009 will have their photo taken and a note will be recorded to say what suit they were wearing at the time. The aim is fairness in these unfair and uneven times thanks to a genre of suits that makes swimming speed a variable it ought not to be.
The move to check suits was taken by Dutch director Jacco Verhaeren in a week that saw the first member of the FINA Bureau call for action to halt the technology that is altering the nature of swimming.