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« June 2009 | August 2009 »

For Swim Parents; The Big Deal About SwimSuits

A note from John Leonard, American Swimming Coaches Association

Coaches-

A number of people have told me that we need a simple primer on why we consider the swimsuit issue (at all levels of American and World Swimming) to be important, and that needs to be addressed to parents of swimmers, who may well not have the background in our sport to understand the issue and be confused. The attached link is direct to such an article. If it will be of help to you with your parents, I encourage each of you to reproduce this in any way you wish IN WHOLE, (please don't cut and clip and choose pieces of it.) and distribute it as you wish.

I hope you find it helpful. Be confident that our ASCA staff and Board leadership have worked diligently for the past 18 months to get the world of swimming into the solution that has now been found and voted for by 168 nations, as part of our advocacy for our beloved sport.

~By John Leonard, Executive Director, American Swimming Coaches Association

Over the past 18 months, the swimming world has been a frenzy of controversy over the emergence of technology in swimsuits. At the recent World Championships in Rome, the constant and overwhelming refrain about suits, echoed the volume and intensity of the last time we were in Rome for a World Championships, when the topic was doping....drugs distorting our sport...in 1994. Fifteen years later, the emotional topic was the new high tech suits that have swept through the sport from the World Championship level down to the local park district championships in the summer league. The parallels were impossible to miss.

FINA (the international governing body of swimming), in an unprecedented move at its Congress in Rome, banned the use of all "non-textile" materials from suits beginning in 2010, and limited the coverage of the body to "knees to navel for men" and "knees to shoulder straps" for women. 168 nations voted in favor of the restrictions, against a mere 6 in opposition (who apparently did not understand the word "textile".) This in the face of strong opposition to the move by the sitting President and Executive Director of the FINA organization. Amazing and never seen before. The USA delegation initiated the restrictions and led the opposition. Why such a strong reaction in opposition to the existing plastic and rubber suits?

A parent new to the sport, from a middle class background, might well say hey, why not? Technology marches on! Equipment gets better. Why not let my son/daughter wear one of the fancy new suits and swim faster?"

Its a valid question that requires a thoughtful answer. Here it is.

The answer revolves around two words, with of course, a considerable amount of "side data" that adds to the intensity of the discussion and the strength of the resolution to end the problem worldwide.

Those two words are >"Maximizing" and "Enhancing".

Quality lane lines "maximize" the opportunity of the athlete to swim fast, with minimum turbulence in the lane. (you should have seen the waves in the pool back in the 60's and 70's.)

Good goggles allow the athlete to see the turns, see their competitors, and comfortably compete -- to say nothing of allowing them to train hard for hours which was impossible in the chlorine pool without goggles and in the old days, yardage and performance was a fraction of what it is today. Goggles Maximize the opportunity of the athlete to work hard.

Evolution in coaching techniques in training and biomechanics allow the athletes to Maximize their ability to benefit from their time in the sport.

Swimsuits, up until approximately the year 2000, and certainly until early 2008, were designed to maximize the opportunity of the athletes to go fast. The manufacturers designed suits to "get out of the way of the water". Less suit, less friction with the water, less drag, tighter fit, and better materials MAXIMIZED the ability of the athlete to perform to their highest earned level.

Beginning in 2008, manufacturers took advantage (and must be applauded for doing so, within the existing rules, which were close to non-existent) of the idea of designing suits to ENHANCE the ability of the athlete to swim faster. A line had been crossed. Designed suits incorporated plastics, rubberized material and new design criteria, to enhance the ability of the athlete to be buoyant in the suits (riding higher makes you faster), wrapped more tightly (compressing the "jiggly parts" makes you MUCH faster) and shed water from the plastics and rubber materials much more effectively, thereby reducing the drag of the suits remarkably.

Since February 2008, 158 world records have been set by elite athletes. Their ability to perform has moved from being "maximized" by their swimsuits, to being "enhanced" by their swimsuits. This rate of improvement is absolutely farcical in the historical context of over 100 years of our sport. At the world championships, new world records were receiving polite applause akin to the "golf clap" for a good shot, rather than the historical roars of appreciation that a swimming crowd used to provide when a human barrier went down, as it infrequently did, by great athletes at the peak of their power.

How does this translate down to the local pool?

Pretty simple. The manufacturers don't make any money by selling suits to the elite athlete. They give the suits away to them. They count on age group swimmers watching the "big guys" and wanting the same suits and equipment.

And lo and behold, the same miraculous benefits accrue to 12 year old Sam and Samantha when they put on the "magic suits" in their local championships. The time drops are miraculous, the smiles are, literally, "priceless" and child, mom and dad are all happy.

"Wait a second. That suit just ripped. Wow. How did that happen? How much did it cost? Wow! You paid $500 for a suit that Sam just put his foot through, rendering it a $500 broken garbage bag? Uh-oh., well, honey, get him another one. We can't have Joe Jones's son Pete beat him in the 200 free tomorrow." Teeth Grit. "This is a kids sport? We now have $1000 in suits so far".

And of course, all those magic benefits only last 7-15 swims, so good for maybe 2-3 meets, unless it's a championship and your child swims 6 events and makes finals in all events, in which case its $500 a meet.

"Let's see, $500 a meet, we go to 2 meets a month, 10 months of the year....Honey, it's gonna cost us $10,000 Just for Samantha's suits this year!"

Well, the solution is simple....just wear the suits for the championship meet and wear your regular suit the rest of the time. OK. Good.

But, Samantha's 58.5 100 free with the magic suit on, just became a 1:02 100 free with the old suit on. Smiles gone. Gone. From Samantha, from Mom. From Dad. Oh well.

And of course, there are some other objections as well.

First, the magic suit deal is like paying for your child to have instant improvement. Is that what you want your child to learn from the sport? Or do you want them to learn to persevere, EARN improvement with hard work, attention to detail, paying attention to the coach and, shall we say it again..."Working Hard?" Or do you want them to learn that you can always "pay your way" with cash to what you want?

"Earn it, or buy it." Which do you want to teach? Answer carefully, parents.

Second, the suit does not affect everyone the same. The thin, fit swimmer will benefit marginally by it. The overweight swimmer will swim like a young seal in it. Spending the same $500 on two children will yield radically different results. Not a fair competition at all. Is that what anyone wants?

Third, and it seems unnecessary to say this, but if you just buy 3 suits a year, that's $1500 or MORE. (Today, purchasing one of the great European suits online from the US will cost you $900...with no guarantee of fit, durability or return-ability, and about 30% of them RIP on the first attempt to put them on...no refund, folks.) Do we really want age group and high school swimmers to have to spend that kind of money to BUY success rather than work for it? It doesn't make our sport a middle class sport, it makes it a sport for wealthy families.

Are you pooh-poohing that? Wait till your son or daughter gets beat the first time by someone whose mommie or daddie could afford a more expensive piece of plastic and rubber than you can. The bitter taste in your mouth is not fun. Not much in the way of "sport" there.

So, in answer to the local official who asked, "Why are "they" [FINA officials] wasting time with worrying about THAT? Don't they have better things to do?"

The answer is "NO." The suit debacle is the most important thing that any of us can attend to. It preserves the heart and soul of our sport....which is reverence and appreciation for the hard work, attention to detail, courage and teamwork required to be a fine competitive swimmer and to learn to succeed with those life-skills instead of with your Daddy's wallet.

The Congress (not the Ruling Bureau) of FINA took the rules into their own hands after the Bureau had time and again failed to establish the rules necessary to keep our sport vital, credible and important. Bravo for them.

All the Best,

John Leonard

jleonard@swimmingcoach.org

31 Jul 09 @ 1:15 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition | Interesting Products category

The Science Behind The Swimsuit War

This month's crackdown on slick swimsuits marks a rare retreat in the technological arms race (and legs race) that has dominated international sports - but it doesn't mean the multimillion-dollar quest for a high-tech edge is over.

"We've already started to think about what kinds of things we'll be doing for 2012," said Rick Sharp, an exercise physiologist at Iowa State University who has played a key role in the swimsuit wars. Then he added with a chuckle, "I can't tell you what those are."

Read on at MSNBC

30 Jul 09 @ 2:19 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition | Interesting Products category

More World Records in Swimming, With No End in Sight

phelps rome.jpg

Michael Phelps was answering a question when the roar of the crowd at the Foro Italico drowned out his voice. Phelps turned to the television screen that was showing the second semifinal of the men's 200-meter freestyle at the world championships and a cloud scudded across his face. His expression darkened.

Read on at the New York Times

29 Jul 09 @ 4:05 AM  | 1 comments  |  Elite Level Competition category

Coach threatens to pull Phelps out of meets

Bowman says swimmer might not race until FINA bans high-tech bodysuits

ROME - Michael Phelps' coach has threatened to withhold the swimmer from international meets until FINA bans high-tech bodysuits.

Read on at NBC Sports

28 Jul 09 @ 6:30 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition | Interesting Products category

Quote for the Week of July 27, 2009

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

~Author Unidentified

27 Jul 09 @ 4:48 AM  | 0 comments  |  Quote for the Week category

Record-setting swimming bodysuits banned

Hi-tech suits led to 108 world records being set last year, 30 so far this year

ROME - Record-setting bodysuits were banned by FINA on Friday, with swimming's governing body taking a major step to limit technology in the pool.

FINA has come under criticism for its failure to regulate the rapid advances in swimsuit technology that have led to 108 world records last year and nearly 30 so far this year.

Read on at NBC Sports

24 Jul 09 @ 2:32 AM  | 1 comments  |  Elite Level Competition | Interesting Products category

Warm-ups / Warm-downs and the Art of Recovery

Last October, one of our Dynoswimmers, Judi Rich was asked, "What's the purpose of warm-down?"

So since we often have swimmers that come late to practice or leave early, it seems that we should clarify the importance of both the warm-up and the warm-down. To that question, Judi correctly replied that swimmers need to warm-up muscles and elevate heart rates during warm-up and relax muscles and bring down heart rates at cool down. Another Dynoswimmer, Glenn Partelow then mentioned that the warm-down helps relieve the lactic acid that builds up during high intensity workouts.

Judi found this article from USA Swimming that explains it all very well.

The Art of Recovery

23 Jul 09 @ 2:06 AM  | 0 comments  |  Technique, Tips, and Drills category

Disabled Swimmer, 16, Has Sights Set on 2012 Paralympics

~By Charles Davis

J Heider.jpg

Jonathan Heider needs a rival. The 16-year-old is expected to win all six races he enters at the National Junior Disability Championships in St. Louis. It would be an incredible accomplishment for anyone, but especially for Jonathan because he was born without any arms or legs. Many athletes boast that they are so good, they don't have any competition, but that's actually the case for Jonathan.

Read on at the Greenbay Pressgazette

22 Jul 09 @ 5:42 AM  | 1 comments  |  Elite Level Competition | Swimmer Profiles category

Thanks Dynoswim!

magnetic island swim 2009.jpg

Hi Dynoswim,

I just wanted to write a short note to say thank you.

I am writing from Australia and have been using your site for a couple of months to find and log swim workouts. It is winter here, and most pools around where I live in a town about midway between Sydney and Brisbane are closed, and most (adult) squads are on their winter hiatus.

So it was your site for workouts in preparation for the swim I completed at the weekend.

And as I said, thank you, because I completed the 8 kilometre Townsville/Magnetic Island swim in 2hrs 25 minutes. (Have a look at their site - http://www.magneticislandswim.com.au)

Apart from the distance, the swim has some additional 'challenges'. As well as the risk of sharks and crocodiles (2008 was the first year the swim was done without cages), there is also a risk of Irukandji Jellyfish - a tiny little critter that can kill a adult pretty quickly but it was not their season and the organisers assured that they were unlikely to worry the swimmers.

D Hancock.jpg

But alas finished with all limbs intact in a time a bit slower than I hoped (but put that down to a fair bit of chop for a couple of kilometres). I am just a middle of the pack 40 year + swimmer and was very pleased just to make the distance.

Your site has been fantastic and I have recommended it to a couple of friends who train through the winter and just thought you might like the positive feedback.

Regards,

Dean Hancock, Coffs Harbour, Australia

Additional Pics:

DH 1.jpg

One is of me on the beach the day before the swim looking out toward magnetic island, another is of me in the water. Not much of a pic this one though, it was taken by my paddler (all participants are allocated a paddler by the organisers). The third is of the view out to Magnetic Island. The swim starts in the sandy beach you can see to the top/right/centre of the island you can see in the distance, and finishes on the beach to the right of the tall building you can see in the foreground.

DH 2.jpg

It is a great swim and as I said last was year it was opened up and swam without cages. There were only 18 of us who did the swim who were not locals, it might be something some of the keen swimmers from your part of the world might consider having a go at.

DH 3.jpg

20 Jul 09 @ 8:48 AM  | 1 comments  |  Open Water Swimming | Swimmer Profiles | Website category

Quote for the Week of July 20, 2009

"If you have a great ambition, take as big a step as possible in the direction of fulfilling it. The step may only be a tiny one, but trust that it may be the largest one possible for now."

~Mildred McAfee (1900-1994); academic, served as first director of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in the United States Navy.

20 Jul 09 @ 12:51 AM  | 0 comments  |  Quote for the Week category

Phelps cruises through nationals, shapes up for worlds

phelpsx.jpg

~By Vicki Michaelis

At the world swimming championships, which begin July 26 in Rome, Michael Phelps won't tackle as ambitious a competition program as the one that gave him worldwide celebrity and a place in Olympic history in last year's Beijing Games. Phelps' results still could be spectacular, based on his performance in the U.S. championships, which ended Saturday in Indianapolis.

That would be in stark contrast with the last time Phelps competed in worlds the year after winning a passel of Olympic medals. He won six gold and two bronze in the 2004 Athens Games, then, in the 2005 worlds, failed to qualify for the 400-meter freestyle final and finished seventh in the 100 freestyle.

Read on at USA Today

15 Jul 09 @ 5:10 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition category

Dara Torres breaks own U.S. record in 50-meter butterfly

~By Sharon Robb

Dara Torres was inspired by the crowd sticking around for time trials after the USA Swimming National Championships had officially ended late Saturday in Indianapolis. After nearly two days of rest, the five-time Olympian from Parkland broke the U.S. record in the 50-meter butterfly for the second time in four weeks.

Torres, 42, wanted to do a time trial to see if she could make her second event for the world championships later this month. She swam the world's third all-time fastest in 25.50 seconds and may add that to her 50 freestyle schedule in Rome. She was just .13 off the world record.

Read on at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

15 Jul 09 @ 5:06 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition category

North Dakota Swimmer Rises Far From Public Eye

Dagny Knutson.jpg

~By Karen Crouse

There is no road map for Dagny Knutson's journey. There are no footprints to trace, no MapQuest or G.P.S. to direct her from swimming's hinterlands to its heights.

Knutson, a 17-year-old from Minot, N.D., sweeps into this week's USA Swimming World Championship Trials as if on the tail of a chinook wind. In the winter and spring, she posted times in the 200-meter freestyle, the 200 individual medley and the 400 individual medley that would have placed her among the top eight at the Beijing Olympics last year.

Read on at The New York Times

15 Jul 09 @ 4:59 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition | Swimmer Profiles category

Coach and Friend Jimi Flowers

Jimi Flowers, passed away on July 10 from a tragic climbing accident. Jimi was a former competitive swimmer, who went on to coach at Auburn University, work at USA Swimming, and most recently, serve as the Paralympic Coach. Jimi was someone the swimming community looked to for smiles, positive statements, and a caring heart.

Read more about Jimi Flowers at GoSwim.tv

15 Jul 09 @ 1:41 AM  | 0 comments  |  College and University Swimming | Elite Level Competition | Swimmer Profiles category

USA Nationals Wrap-up

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana. Get all of the stories, results and video interviews from the recently completed USA Nationals.

Check it out at SwimmingWorldMagazine.com

14 Jul 09 @ 6:41 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition category

Man Drowns During Pewaukee Lake Triathlon

I'm not sure what to say about this one, a tragedy, but am wondering how and why this actually happened...

PEWAUKEE, Wis. -- An investigation is under way after a triathlon participant drowned in the middle of a race at Pewaukee Lake.The victim was identified as Daniel Murray, 33, of Milwaukee. The race director said it was Murray's first race.

More than 1,400 athletes took part in the race.

Read on at WISN.com

13 Jul 09 @ 2:32 AM  | 0 comments  |  Triathlon category

Quote for the Week of July 13, 2009

"Goals. There's not telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There's no telling what you can do when you believe in them. There's no telling what will happen when you act upon them."

~Jim Rohn

13 Jul 09 @ 1:11 AM  | 0 comments  |  Quote for the Week category

Future Olympians

From Sports Illustrated: Watch over the next few years to see how far their dreams will carry them--to college stardom, professional titles or Olympic gold.

Lia Neal, 14 (Photo)

Lukas Verzbicas, 16 (Photo)

10 Jul 09 @ 1:50 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition | Swimmer Profiles | Triathlon category

Up-and-Comers Will Test Stars at the USA Swimming National Championships

The nation's best swimmers will cut through the chlorine in Indianapolis the next five days at the National Championships and World Championship Trials. Those who make the team -- the top finisher in each event and likely the runner-up, too -- will compete in the World Championships in Rome from July 17 to Aug. 2.

Read on at the Courier-Journal

8 Jul 09 @ 4:59 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition category

Teri McKeever and Kate Ziegler Interview

Coach Teri McKeever talks about the qualities of a good coach -- male or female -- and how Natalie Coughlin has been keeping fit during her break. Olympian Kate Ziegler talks about the pressures she faced leading up to the Olympics after breaking the world record in the 1500 free in 2007.

7 Jul 09 @ 5:39 AM  | 0 comments  |  Elite Level Competition category

Getting into the Swim of Things

So, you've decided to get in the water again. It's probably been a while since you last hit the pool. Maybe you swam your final conference meet or NCAAs a few months ago, or it could be a decade or three since you last attempted a swim practice. Maybe you're a triathlete or fitness swimmer attending your first organized water workout. In any event, that first practice can often be daunting. Following a few simple rules of thumb may improve your perspective, prepare you for the experience, and keep you coming back for more.

Read on at Swimnetwork.com

7 Jul 09 @ 2:12 AM  | 0 comments  |  Favorite Swimming Experience | Health and Nutrition | Technique, Tips, and Drills category

Quote for the Week of July 6, 2009

"Morale is the state of mind. It is steadfastness and courage and hope. It is confidence and zeal and loyalty. It is elan, esprit de corps and determination."

~George Marshall (1880-1959)

6 Jul 09 @ 1:59 AM  | 0 comments  |  Quote for the Week category

Questionable Stroke Counting

~By Coach Emmett Hines

A common line of inquiry revolves around why we spend time doing super low stroke count swimming (which is often also super slow swimming) since absolutely none of our racing is done in the super low (or super slow) realm.

We do a fair amount of work at ever-lower stroke counts where you are bordering on drilling as opposed to swimming. The idea behind this is that, as you get better at doing the super-low counts (even for short distances) it makes doing your "normal" and just-under-normal stroke counts easier to do--primarily because you must get more streamlined and slippery to do the lowest counts. Then the idea is to take this visceral knowledge of slipperiness back to your more "normal" counts. I don't expect nor suggest that you try to swim your races or do your high intensity sets at the super low counts. Super low stroke count work is primarily technique refinement work--think of it as conditioning your nervous system for lower resistance swimming. Doing these swims will improve your ability to do your "normal" count swims at lower energy levels.

Read on at H2Ouston Swims

3 Jul 09 @ 2:03 AM  | 0 comments  |  Technique, Tips, and Drills category

No Sweat: Five Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated

For a swimmer, hydration is often at the bottom of the list of things to think about during training. But contrary to conventional wisdom, swimmers do sweat during practice, losing as much as six to eight ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. To find out how to combat the effects of dehydration, SwimNetwork checked in with Australian sports physiologist and coach Rod Cedaro and sports nutritionist Nancy Clark. They offered these reliable methods to ensure you down enough water before you hit the water.

Read on at Swimnetwork.com

2 Jul 09 @ 12:25 AM  | 0 comments  |  Health and Nutrition category

Calories Burned...

In case you've ever wondered how effective one type of exercise might be versus another. This of course only benchmarks one metric - calories burned.

Nutristrategy

1 Jul 09 @ 1:22 AM  | 1 comments  |  Health and Nutrition category

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