The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was just the beginning for the “technical suits” that the sport of swimming had just been introduced to. The Speedo LZR was worn by most of the 2008 Olympians in the pool, made of polyurethane, which decreased resistance and increased buoyancy. The peak of the advancement of these suits like the Speedo LZR occurred during the 2009World Championships in Rome.
“43 world records were set at last summer’s world championships in Rome,” says Kristina Wong from abc NEWS.
Speedo’s initial step into the technologically advanced LZR provoked responses by other brands such as TYR, Blue Seventy, and Jaked among others all ranging to $1,000. This expensive price tag affected club swimming, collegiate swimming, and international swimming because swimmers without a tech suit simply could not compete at the same level. Team budgets had to rise just to get their swimmers fitted in the competition wear.
Yet in 2010 FINA took action. FINA, the international governing body of swimming, ruled that the only legal suits were the original textiles. The tech suits were banned from there on, and did not leave without controversy. Many wondered if world records would ever be broken again and had these suits changed the history of swimming?
Nearly 2 years later, the Washington Post announced that Ryan Lochte had won the 200 IM, “setting the first world record since high-tech bodysuits were banned at the start of last year.”
The suits had made such an impact on the world of swimming that the world record count went from 43 in a single competition to 1 in nearly 2 years.
This poses a huge question for the 2012 Olympics; will 2012 be a disappointment compared to 2008? Michael Phelps made a substantial statement by winning 8 gold medals in a single Olympics. Will the more original, textile suits have any hindrance in his performance among other Olympians this time around?
If anything, the ban on the tech suits have required swimmers to be leaner, more in shape, and more athletic in London than ever before. Although the suits may be slower, it all comes down to the athletes who are wearing them.