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Italian Juniors Jaked Up For Speed

Apr 10, 2009  - Craig Lord

Jaked comes under the spotlight once more in a week when figures of 3 national senior and 88 Italian junior records are cited by the Italian media in the wake of a set of stunning efforts at the nation's youth championships in Riccione. The latest national short-course senior record fell in 51.11 to Damiano Lestingi over 100m backstroke. He also clocked a 1:43 200m free.

The youth pool is overflowing, according to Italian reports, with the latest incarnation of the Jaked suit, a garment that is enhancing performance and may cop it if FINA's independent suit-testing process is worth its salt. Several e-mails from coaches confirm that some were uncomfortable, to say the least, with what they witnessed, on deck at the event and on the result sheet from afar.

Stefan Arcobelli, senior reporter at Gazetta dello Sport, notes that uneasy mood and also the coverage of the Munoz swim in Spain, where the rider is posed - "imagine Phelps in a Jaked". Don't think he or Speedo would go for that, somehow. But in these times when contracts and relationships are being torn to shreds and the swimming pool has become a dumping ground for  fast suits that have altered the nature of the sport, you just never know. 

Arcobelli suggests that the 50% permeability count, which is scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2010, may catch some of the things that have turned suits into surf boards. January 1, 2010, if it be until then before the sport is relieved of the damage being caused, cannot come soon enough. But what a way to wish away the lifetime of a sport. 

Meanwhile, this from Italy. "These have been an entertaining championships," said Italian national youth coach Walter Bolognani. "It's the first championship at which the new generation suits have been worn by juniors and youth swimmers; and that has influenced to some degree the amazing times". No mention of "technological doping", the term coined by national senior coach Alberto Castagnetti when the LZR made its debut last year. No mention of "we will not let our children wear garments that enhance performance and skew the result and alter the entire nature of youth selection". No mention of the fact that in many leading nations of the world, US and Australia included, such suits are banned in the youth pool. 

Time, perhaps, for Italy and its federation to take a long, hard, cold look at the issue of "technological doping" once more. That will be all the easier if the Jaked suit that propelled Rafa Munoz to a world record over 50m 'fly last week and gave him a 100m time equal to the best of Phelps, is ruled out of the pool by FINA's independent tests, pre-Rome 2009 or after it. Better than it be before lest Rome 2009 and all the money being poured into that event ends up being the type of circus that would undoubtedly remind us of the one we witnessed back in 1994.  Then it was doping. Will it now be technological doping that dominates discussion in the Eternal City come July? If anyone has good reason not to allow Rome 2009 to become Rome 1994, it is surely the Italian federation, the body that dumped its long-time partner in 2008 for a wetsuit lookalike that may well yet come back to haunt it.

 Some "highlights" from the flotation championships in Riccione: 50m 'fly - Tommaso Romani (Fiorentina Nuoto), 24.05;  100m free - Marco Orsi (CN Uisp Bologna) 47.82 (prev best Italian junior - Michele Santucci, 48.68, 2008); 100m back - Damiano Lestingi (CC Aniene) leading off the medley relay in a senior national record of 51.11; 1,500m free - Alessandro Cuoghi (Logtainer Modena Nuoto) 14'55.82;  50m breast -  Andrea Toniato (Plain Team Veneto) 26.89; 1991-born boys - 400m free - Alessandro Cuoghi 3:45.26; Mihai Florin Pantir 3:46.50; Stefano de Zan 3:49.76; and so on and so forth, much of which will have an impact on the world rankings.