Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote for Skin

Troubling times. There are so many events happening right now demanding our attention; truly important issues which involve millions of lives, trillions of dollars, justice, and how human society is to proceed over the next few decades, it’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed. My humble apologies, but please allow me to add one more concern to dump onto that ugly steaming heap of troubles on your plate. It’s a little thing as problems go, won’t really have any effect on your life, but will need to be dealt with before it becomes irredeemable. What I’m writing about here is whether or not swimming should accept the new technically advanced suits, in particular the Speedo LZR Racer, as part of the natural evolution of our sport.

I’ve partially addressed this issue from my own limited perspective as one who thinks the suit's adoption is wrong because of a desire not to break completely with the past and the issue of fairness. Others are just as adamant any rejection of the benefits which technology brings to swimming is a backward denial of the inevitable. Now Craig Lord, perhaps the most preeminent journalist covering swimming, has written a detailed five part series about this landmark event looking at the controversy from all sides. Everyone who cares about the future of our sport should read this series to fully understand the issues and what is at stake for swimming.

Suit Week 1: In the Beginning
Suit Week 2: How Speedo Won the Battle of Beijing
Suit Week 3: Vested Interest
Suit Week 4: The Case Against the Suit
Suit Week 5: Solutions

What makes Craig Lord a better journalist than I is rather than just rant against the suit (for he’s as decidedly against the suit as anyone) he still presents the other side's arguments and, better yet, offers possible solutions. One of those solutions forms the title of this post – that we should rely on the characteristics of human skin to provide the technical standards against which future suits should be measured. In short he calls for as much skin as possible. Marketing wise I think it’s a winning concept which has been discussed by several of us bloggers for some time. The one thing Lord doesn’t do is go into are the technical details as to how the suit rules would have to be worded in order to promote the “more skin the better” change in suit design. Perhaps there are some readers who may have some ideas on how this should be done? If you do then let’s hear them. I’ll be the first to throw a stick into the fire by saying I’d achieve the objective by requiring the suit’s drag coefficient to be worse than smooth skin, say a minimum of 5%, which should achieve the desired effect. At least it sounds pretty straight forward and relatively easy to enforce. What do you think?

P.S. I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce this is my blog’s 200th post. A trifling sum for many but for me an amazing total.


Joel said...

Congrats! Keep on posting! I'm heading to the 4400!

Scott said...

You're a machine both blogging and in the pool 17thman!