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Phelps equaled Spitz’s seven world records, but the records he beat were set in olden times, before the advent of the LZR. It is estimated that the LZR improves a swimmer’s time by at least 3 percent. Did Phelps best each world record by at least 3 percent? He did not. Spitz’s Olympic performance is arguably history’s best.
We can thank the inventors of this idiotic aquatic contraption for this idiotic debate. Also we must thank NCAA officials who last September decided to allow its use in intercollegiate swimming. Why did they not allow the use of swim fins too?
Now coaches are grumbling that the high-tech suits have introduced a variable into the sport that detracts from the essence of competitive swimming: stroke mechanics, rigorous training, and competitive drive. Dennis Dale, the swimming coach at the University of Minnesota, told the Wall Street Journal, “I’m very disappointed that our sport has come to a point where I have to be as concerned with swimsuits as I am with the swimmers.” Said Phil Whitten, executive director of the College Swim Coaches Association: “It’s like having one pole-vaulter using a fiberglass pole and another using a wooden pole. It’s an absolute mess.”
Moreover, the introduction of high-tech suits not only gives an advantage to those who wear them. The LZR gives a special advantage to fat swimmers— yes, I said fat swimmers. The suits compress competitors’ flesh, making their bodies more buoyant and allowing them to float higher in the water. Yet when the fat of corpulent swimmers is compressed their bodies become more buoyant than the body of a lean, dense-muscled swimmer. Thus the fatties, according to the Journal, “float higher in the water and swim faster.”
Another problem is that the LZR suits are tremendously expensive. Whereas the ordinary brief that most swimmers still wear costs around $25, the LZR costs $550. Equally appalling, it is good for only a few races before it is worn out and falls apart. This adds thousands of dollars more to cost of athletic programs that might better use their money on scholarships. The LZR redirects competitive swimming from sport to technological experimentation. It causes athletic programs to place a swimmer’s swimsuit above an athlete’s education.
At the heart of the matter we see a clever swimsuit manufacturer expanding its profits hugely by bringing out a hitherto unimagined product. What allowed Speedo to get away with this? Doubtless the officials at the NCAA assume that they are part of history’s march to progress. Well, if it is progress when swimmers wearing a high-tech swimsuit break world records, it would be even more progressive if the swimmers took up my suggestion and wore swim fins. With them the swimmers would swim even faster and at much less cost. A standard pair of fins goes for about $30, and they last for years.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?