Have the swimsuits used in competitive swimming become a form of “Mechanical Doping
Athletes such as Mark Foster and Rebecca Adlington have recently come out against new generation swimsuits, suits that they say amount to chemical doping or steroids. Are they right or is the competition between corporations a vital part of the sport of swimming?
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Technology is reducing influence of competitors and rather equipment they use
Mark Foster points to the example of the Mens 50m freestyle record that has improved by half a second, when he struggled to improve his own time over years by a tenth of a second.
This is way too significant to just discount individual performance alone and shows that the suits are giving people an unfair advantage to those who don't have the right equipment. [[http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/swimming/8125070.stm]]
The technology in any sport is a factor to success - especially at the highest levels. Your choice of football boots, skis, 'F-duct', running shoes, etc. is an important part of being a top-level athlete; this includes training with that equipment, so that you can perform to your absolute best.
Swimmers, before the 'shark-skin' suits, used to shave their entire bodies to get that extra edge.
Should we give everyone the same equipment in every sport?
Too many records cheapens quality of sport
In the 1970s and 80s swimming suffered a massive blow to its credibility when there was a large amount of chemical doping in the sport[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/jul/19/rebecca-adlington-swimsuit-fina]].
In the early 2000s there seemed to be another blow in the form of the development of the Jaked 01 - a swimsuit that takes 40 mins to put on, but adds extra bouyancy and compresses muscles. [[http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/swimming/8125070.stm]]
As a result, over 100 records in most categories have been broken; hardly a sign of fair or genuine competition. [[http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/03072009/58/foster-super-suit-damage-20-years.html]]
Also, the athletes that wear these suits could be using the suit as a way of neglecting core skills such as breathing and physical training.
The fact that there are so many records being broken can show renewed and increased competition between athletes meaning there is more interest. Also records have been getting broken at every major event since the inception of the olympics and world championships. Do we call improving standards of the sport a cheapening in quality? [["Why are so many swimming records becoming broken at the Beijing Olympics ? Yahoo Answers.com Accessed 22.07.09 http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080812192501AAjNP0U%5D%5D
Also there are some records that have withstood the test of time and technology requiring a strong effort to challenge them. For example Australian Swimmer Ian Thorpe's record in the men's 400m freestyle from 2002 remains unbroken as does the 100m butterfly record which was set in 2000. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world_records_in_swimming]]
Brings money and interest into the sport
The technological race to develop new material brings in money to a sport that needs it and the money given in allows top athletes to train and compete without worrying about financial constraints. For example record breaking Michael Phelps receives money from Speedo. Further more it isn't just top end athletes who benefit.
Also a large amount of interest has been generated not just by the competition but the technological enhancements used in order to produce world record breaking times. It comes as a result of people from NASA working on the different materials.
Maybe but is that interest helping or harming the sport and is it the right interest. Take a look at football with the amount of money flowing into it. That's been good in some senses allowing professional football but bad in others (Cries about overpaid fotballers ring a bell?". And with swimming it can be bad in that because of sponsorship deals cut by national swimming associations athletes are tied into using one make of swimsuit that may not be the best one around. [["Foster furious over hi tech suits http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/swimming/8125070.stm%5D%5D
People have always tried to gain advantage through one way or another
People have always tried to improve themselves through more than just training and using their equipment for example shaving their hair wearing swimming caps or waxing their chests in order to reduce resistance towards water. The new suits are merely the latest in the line of technological developments done to help athletes perform at their full potential.
There are lines that cannot and should not be crossed between genuine self improvement, which can be done through improved training amongst other things, and artificial improvements that are done through suits that contort the body into a position that it wouldn't be in otherwise. [[http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/swimming/8125070.stm]] That's why these new high-tech suits are regarded as a form of doping by a lot of swimmers and should be treated as such; as they are a form of unfair competition.
What do you think?