Pumped-Up 50m Free 'WR' Ratified
Jul 8, 2009 - Craig Lord
The ludicrously inconsistent stance of FINA on world records and suits was confirmed by the international federation with the news that Fred Bousquet's 20.94 in a full skimming Jaked01 100% polyurethane suit is now ratified as a global mark.
It is a time standard that may survive for some while to some if FINA sticks to its guns and returns the sport to its status as a technique-based sport that does not allow suits to enhance performance and serve as devices that are already clearly forbidden under rule SW10.7 (no device may aid speed, buoyancy and endurance).
Bousquet's time was set on April 26 at French nationals. It broke the 21.28sec standard set in an LZR by Eamon Sullivan (AUS). The "true" world record stands yet at 21.64 to Alex Popov (RUS), the quadruple Olympic champion's effort from 2000 the target for all sprinters in the post-suit-enhanced era that will start when FINA delivers clarity and fairness.
Meanwhile, Alain Bernard, French teammate of Bousquet's, sits and wonders why the 50m world record may be ratified while his 46.94 set in a suit that is constructed in a very similar way to the Jaked01, will never be recognised as a global standard. He set his time in an X-Glide that had not been approved for use at the time, is FINA's answer. There is merit in that answer but even merit loses its worth at a time when the inconsistency and unfairness rife in the sport has been delivered to swimmers by the very federation that is charged with guarding their interests by ensuring fair play and standardising race conditions.
Bernard's odd consolation: his time remains the fastest ever and a French record. Ideally, neither his nor Bousquet's times would stand - and the reason for that will become all the more obvious in the years ahead.