Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Suntan Proof Swimsuits
I love technology, but today’s WSJ suggest that the new high tech swimsuits may be “dirty pool”. The article goes on to tell of the controversy between users of traditional swimsuits, Speedos, and wearers of the polyurethane or neoprene bodysuits being favored by racers, young and old,. Michael Phelps, the win-all hero of the recent Olympics, was soundly beaten by a supposedly lesser competitor who availed himself of a “high tech” bodysuit. Phelps wore his usual Speedo. The new suits are expensive, provide extra flotation, smooth out the wrinkles and bumps on the human body, have less affinity for water, and make technology an important factor in a swimmer’s top speed. I think that the use of new technology is fair in sailboat racing, but I question its place in a contest intended to measure human strength and skill
Think what has happened to the pole vault. In 1942 (when I was making some feeble attempts at vaulting) we used a straight stiff pole with no bending capability to it. The World Record that year was held by Cornelius Warmardam at 4.77meters (15.65 feet). By 1994 the great Sergey Bubka had made a record vault of 6.14 meters (20.14 feet). But was Sergey really any better than Cornelius? Sergey used an elastic pole that bends almost in half then propels the jumper upward like a sling shot. How high would Warmarham have vaulted with the elastic pole to provide an extra shove?
I like competitive sports. Technology that improves the safety of the competitors is great, but not if it artificially improves performance.
ps. You can't get a good tan with the new suits.