Swimming Is Out Of Control

Wow, am I ever glad that people don’t bet on swimming. Or maybe people do, but only the real degenerates. What’s going on right now at the World Championships is that swimming has descended into being a total mockery of a sport, and they seem to have little interest in doing anything about it.

It all began with these stupid swimsuits. People started wearing the full length compression suits a couple of years ago, and world records fell like crazy. These things make swimmers considerably more streamlined, and they also have a positive effect on muscle endurance. As a result, virtually every Olympic record, and most of the world ones as well, were shattered inBeijing.

It didn’t matter how fast of a swimmer you were – if you weren’t wearing a suit then you weren’t winning. It made past performance a totally useless indicator of current form. Fast forward to the worlds. The suits that set so many records before has been trumped by a different suit from another company that is even faster. In the first two days of the worlds, being held this week in Rome, 14 world records were set, and all were set in the new suits. Swimmers who are endorsed by Speedo are stuck in the old suits, so they just aren’t competitive. One of those swimmers is Michael Phelps. He finished second in the 200 meter freestyle on Tuesday – the first time he has failed to win a major event at a major meet since 2005. He swam below his world record time in Beijing, yet he was beat by a full body length by an unknown German swimmer who knocked 0.96 seconds off the world record. Guess what he was wearing. The same swimmer had already shattered the 400 m freestyle record long held by Ian Thorpe – the best swimmer of this generation not named Phelps.

The swimming federation has banned these suits starting next year, but it’s too late. By then the world records will be all but untouchable for years. What’s the point of watching swimming if not to see world records?They have a mess on their hands at least as bad in terms of the legitimacy of results as if all of the swimmers were ‘roided up for every race. This is supposed tobe a so-called amateur sport, yet the results are entirely determined by who endorses you and who spends more on equipment research. Even Formula One isn’t that bad, and it’s pretty bad.

Imagine if technology played this much of a part in other sports, and if we didn’t know about it until game time. What if Nate Robinson suddenly had springs in his shoes that allowed him to block Yao Ming? That sounds ridiculous, but it’s no less ridiculous than a marginal German swimmer coming from nowhere to beat the greatest swimmer alive in one of his strongest events because of what he was wearing. It’s doping that isn’t bad for you. Even Bud Selig isn’t stupid enough to get a sport into this kind of a mess.

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Posted by on Jul 30 2009. Filed under Sports Handicapping. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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