Ever wondered why the swimming world records are tumbling like 10-pins at the Water-Cube?
True, advanced training methods and legal food supplements have produced more physically fit swimmers. But today’s swimmers are not as formidable-looking as the East Germans in the 1970s who were being pumped with anabolic steriods.
Various columnists have pointed out to several other reasons. Firstly, the swimming-pool itself. Fitted with 2 additional lanes on top of the standard 8 lanes, the outer two lanes are left empty to absorb the waves created by turbulence so that the water is as still as possible. On top of that, the waves are dispersed into gutters which are at the level of the water surface. Why, even the plastic buoys that separate the lanes are designed to push the force of waves downwards. Not forgetting of course, that the pool is 3 metres deep(instead of 2), to lessen resistance. And the non-skid starting blocks..which are designed for enhanced take-off.
Undoubtedly, the talking point is on the latest full-body suit, the Speedo LZR Racer. The corsetlike suit requires a half-hour to put on and is made by ultrasonic welding instead of stitching. It is designed to mould the body into a streamlined configuration. It is said to assist the act of breathing as well as enhancing one’s buoyancy in water.
So much so, the Italian swimming coach (that uses a rival brand – Arena) has alleged that these suits have violated performance-enhancing rules set by the international swimming federation(FINA) and equates the usage of these suits as “technological doping”.
Doping or not, you cannot prevent the application of such legalised technology in sport.