The Jaked Edge To A Dutch Protest
Apr 20, 2009 - Craig Lord
Many thanks to the reader who sent news of what went down at the Amsterdam Cup at the weekend, when Lennart Stekelenburg clocked a stunning 59.50 100m breaststroke in a time trial alone just after high noon. Here is what he did in heats and finals either side of that swim, while wearing a Speedo LZR.
Our correspondent at the scene writes: "Lennart's time trial was sort of a statement for complaining about the suit circus that's going on. Lots of records and qualifying times for Rome were swam in a Jaked suit. Some of the Dutch swimmers ... have a contract with Speedo and aren't allowed to use the Jaked. Lennart isn't very happy with the influence all the new suits seem to have on competition. He didn't want to use one of the controversial suits in competition and used the time trial to show the unfairness of the differences in suits."
So, he donned a Jaked and hey presto. The Dutch swimming association is sponsored by Speedo, and Speedo is not going to allow Dutch swimmers to wear a Jaked in Rome. As such, Dutch swimmers could well now be at a disadvantage to, say, Italians, and others who may be floating to success if FINA does not soon remove unwelcome excess on the bones and skins of swimmers. Marleen Veldhuis sizzled in 'fly (a 56.69 left her 0.08sec shy of Inge de Bruijn's ahead-of-time world mark) in a Jaked as she tried out a variety of suits in readiness to what she may or may have to don to be competitive this summer. Her freestyle 50m world record fell in a LZR. Imagine where she might have gone if she'd have donned an even more floaty flotation device. What a mess.
The point is: who knows how bid the advantage of one suits over another is. There was a time not long ago when suits helped and granted a great image to the sport of swimming. Now, the difference in enhancement from one suit and one swimmer to the next is making a mockery of the sport.
And talking or image, not too useful for swimming the urban dictionary definition of Jaked. Not the Italian suit makers aim, surely, but nonetheless, most apt for the state of the sport right now.
And against that tasteless background we turn to this can of worms, as spotted by another eagle-eyed reader: remember the Rocket man and his likening of a lung, an arm, a leg etc with a suit? Well, the rocket folk are back telling us to buy stuff that is already banned: we learn on their super-fuelled website that swimmers are being invited to buy a suit - a full-arm device - that is already bannedunder the Dubai Charter.
This is what it says: "Note for swimmers taking part in FINA sanctioned events including Rome World Championship. The Long Sleeve Swimsuits can be used at all swimming competitions until July 17, 2009. After July 17th suits can be used in non-FINA sanctioned events."
Rocket Man and friends need to dip further into a rule book that governs what members of FINA - 200 plus countries - sign up to. Yes, you can race 100m in a fast-flowing stream if you like, or try cracking the world 100m record in a 15m pool, or give it a whirl while wearing flippers (I could once approach Michael Gross's speed wearing flippers - fab, what a hero I was). But none of those efforts would count for anything at all. Thank goodness.
But hey, the message from Rocket suggests, well, "bugger FINA rules ... buy our suit and to hell with international rules and the spirit of the game". You can still set world records in suits not approved by FINA, they suggest. Well, actually, Rocket man and team, no you cannot, unless you're on a beach and have no sun block to hand. Nor can you wear suits not approved by FINA in swim racing: under FINA constitution, any competition where times and performances count towards the official list of results must be FINA sanctioned and must take part in conditions approved of by FINA.
Perhaps, though, Rocket is now advocating true schism: a rival world to FINA's in which Rocket sets the rules and anything goes, as long as you wear one of its expensive little numbers.
Meantime, on the swimoutlet.com website, you will also find this note alongside "fast suits": "FINA approved for pool competitions through August 2nd 2009." An invitation to buy suits on the basis that they can be worn in Rome at the world championships. Interesting.
Must have missed something. FINA must have announced to them and perhaps others something that the rest of the world is still waiting to hear about. As far as I am aware, and as far as I have been told by FINA, there will be no announcement, nor a list of approved garments until "early May at the earliest...".
Still, why spoil a good sales pitch. Someone - one side or the other - is telling a fair few fibs. Caveat emptor.