Dad, can I have a new racing suit?
The question asked by an army of budding athletes across the country, if not the globe...
The desire to look and compete like the growing race of super athletes chasing international glory, could not be greater. In a sport where participants are tested on their ability to hold water and compete in a daily staring contest with the bottom of the pool, the challenge cannot be underestimated. It would be rude not to utilise every aspect of legal performance enhancers depicted by the media as delivering that dream. The power of a new racing suit to enhance performance is one that has been imprinted on the eyes of young swimmers for generations. The promise of a faster time is too tempting for any developing swimmer to ignore.
The question must be posed: does a racing suit in the hands of a young county level swimmer produce an Olympic gold medallist?
The racing suit has been under technological advancement for decades, claiming to enhance body positioning, stroke efficiency, targeted compression and much, much more. The claim of these suits is not to be put to scrutiny by the masses that believe in their ability to transform zero to hero. Certainly, the racing suit has the ability to maximise the efficiency of the stroke when the stroke itself cannot be improved further. At a level where technique and speed is considered equal across the pool, the marginal benefit of the suit will aid those that require just a few millimetres of difference. At a development level of swimming however, why look for those slight differences when big gains are still out there to be made. Rotational speed, kicking speed and streamlining are all skills that are not affected by what is worn. The marginal help that the suit brings to the table, means nothing against a world class 15m underwater phase!
Why chase an expensive product for performance enhancement if the swimming isn't technically sound? The outlay on a world class swimmer is a big commitment for any parent to make. You wouldn't use a £150 knife in the kitchen when you are only just learning how to cook. In the same way, until an athlete can maintain an effective body position in the water and develop the right skills, performance enhancers are merely just boosting their ego. No one can argue that a suit is more important than effective butterfly kicks off a wall.
This article is not written to deliberately smite the established performance wear sector of swimming, it is merely highlighting that improvement that costs nothing and is solely in the hands of the athlete. Hard work is priceless.
Why fit the suit if you can't fit the swim?
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