What are supersuits?
Supersuits are full body length and are made of a non-textile, non-woven material. They have been reported to aid buoyancy and also help minimise friction when gliding through the water, helping to reduce swim times up to 4%. This is because the fabric is impermeable, causing the suit to trap air and thus make you more buoyant.
In February 2008, the Speedo LZR Racer was released. It was soon proved to be revolutionary at the Beijing Olympics, with 23 of the 25 world records broken at the meet with the new suit. Swimmers wearing the suit won 94% of the races and 89% of the medals in the pool over the course of the games. Other swim suit brands were quick to release new products and at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, the world records were tumbling fast.
Why they were banned
At the 2009 World Championships the suits were put under scrutiny. Michael Phelps famously said he would retire from competitive swimming if the suits were not banned. It was felt that the suits gave an unfair advantage and that they were taking away the fact that swimming should be about the athlete and not the technology.
The suits were then banned following a decision made by FINA on the 29th July 2009 in Rome. This ban was in force from the 1st January 2010.
Should we bring the suits back?
The records in recent years have finally been starting to fall again following the ban. Some however have been notoriously hard to beat. For example the 200m Freestyle long course world record, set by Paul Biedermann of 1:42.00. It is still unbeaten to this day and does not look at threat any time soon. It had been argued that banned the suits would be at a detriment to the sport and would put the sport back a decade.
It would be very interesting to see how fast recent swims would have be with the help of the supersuits. But if the supersuits weren't banned, what other developments may have happened since then? Would there now be a 'super' supersuit?
It is does seem very true that what was argued in 2009 may have been correct. We were taking more away from the athletes performance and focusing more on the technology. This would only be detrimental for the sport in the long run. But on the flip side it would be interesting to see what times you could swim. Maybe it might be an idea to have a special supersuit competition!
What do you think? Should we bring them back? Comment with your thoughts below.
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