Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cheating in the Pool

Yesterday, the Washington Post had a story about a new line of swimsuits from Speedo, the FS-Pro, that all the top competitors are wearing because it provides a big performance boost. World records are falling by large margins. In June, swimming's oldest record -- Janet Evans's 1988 mark in 1,500-meter freestyle -- was beaten by Kate Ziegler, wearing the new suit, by almost 10 seconds.

These swimsuits should be banned in competition, in respect for the efforts and accomplishments of past swimmers. If Kate Ziegler swam her record-breaking 1,500-meter freestyle wearing flippers on her feet, she'd have been disqualified. What's the difference between wearing this new suit and wearing a pair of flippers?

Cynics say that elite-level sports are more about entertainment than competition. In the world of sports entertainment, people want to see records broken, or so the thinking goes. But for Major League Baseball, at least, records have a certain sanctity. Kudos to baseball for refusing to allow the aluminum bat and a livelier baseball to increase scoring. And as Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire et al. have found out, taking performance enhancing drugs, even when they haven't been banned, is regarded by fans, if not the game itself, as cheating.

In the past, technology has improved swimmers' performances and times.
  • Pools and lane dividers have been improved to reduce turbulence and improve swimmers' times
  • Technology used in training and coaching has helped athletes improve their conditioning and their technique -- reducing their times.
There is an interesting article in today's Washington Post that explores the black, white and grey areas of cheating and performance enhancement in sports. With advancements in technology, black and white are disappearing. Games are now decided on the playing field, in the testing labs, and in the courts of law and public opinion.

So, swimming fans, get your opinions ready and let the powers that be know that the FS-Pro suit is for cheaters only.

1 comment:

max said...

I can understand how a swimming fan may view this as cheating, but as a swimmer i find it some what repulsive. If suits have not evolved into what they are now you might be watching Michael Phelps wearing a wool suit from the 1900's. the goal in swimming is regardless of the technology used as long as there are body enhancing drugs being used. Swimming is not baseball there isn't a comparison there, the problem with that is the aluminum bats or any other enhancement gives one team an advantage at a time. yet in meets such as the olympic trials speedo has bought suits for every usa swimming member that doesn't already have a suit that their comfortable swimming in