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Asterisk Shiny Suit WRs, Says Schubert

Jul 22, 2009  - Craig Lord

US national team coach Mark Schubert has called for world records set since February 2008, when Speedo introduced the LZR, to be marked as "artificially aided." He would like them to include an asterisk or be set apart in some way and even erased when a swimmer comes along in a textile suit, profile yet to be agreed, sometime in the future.

Suit wars had been "a huge distraction," Schubert told reporters in the midst of a season of turmoil and 100% non-fabric apparel that goes beyond the LZR on some measures of performance enhancement. "It's not a good thing for our sport," he concluded. 

FINA's new bureau, to be elected on Friday this week, will meet at the weekend to discuss new suit rules and limits for 2010. It is already known that the 100% polyurethane suits and those that use neoprene-like fabrics will be banned from the race pool. It remains to be seen if there will be a much-needed return to textile and a cut back in the profile of apparel that can be engineered to enhance performance.

The new suits' effects vary "depending on somebody's body type, physiology, how they float," Schubert says. "I also think it probably helps some strokes and some distances more than others." Bravo Mark Schubert. Rome awaits you, as does FINA Congress on Friday.

At that Congress, FINA should brace itself for challenge on issues that have angered the worldwide swimming community. SwimNews understands that leading nations, with the USA at the helm, will oppose the Bureau's proposed amendment of Rule SW10.7 and insist that the word swimsuit is added to the current rule.

All nations that want a return to common sense on suits should vote for the following recommendation from the FINA Technical Committee:

No swimmer shall be permitted to use or wear any device or swimsuit that may aid his/her speed, buoyancy or endurance during a competition (such as webbed gloves, flippers, fins, etc.).  Goggles may be worn. Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted. 

Those who prefer to see swimming not surfing and gliding: do the right thing.

An editorial note on Schubert's suggestions: the USA head coach has acknowledged in forceable fashion the nature of the crisis in the sport of swimming. Removing records set in "legal" circumstances, however, is likely to be challenged. How to tell Fred and Rafa that their efforts - however sickening - must be erased, when the swims of Kornelia to Kristin remain on the books with all that we now know about the nature of their achievements? In the weeks ahead, some very still, clear-thinking will be needed on how to dredge the pond of the murky mess that FINA has deposited in the sport.