Wednesday, 13 January 2010

What to do with the non-textile suit WRs

Great discussion (video below) on the fate of the non-textile WRs set in 2008-2009. This is without doubt the best discussion so far on this issue. Craig Lord and Garrett McCaffrey presented their points superbly. Both made valid arguments for an issue that has no easy answer. One thing is for sure, we need more of this sort of discussion in the swimming world.

Here's my take.... I believe we should have one set of official World Records and they should be as they stand now. These are the records to have on the top of timesheets, the WR line on TV, prize money at World Cups/Mare Nostrum etc.

The Polyurethane suits have already taken too much attention away from the swimmers, we cannot continue to keep having to mention in every race report about textile and non-textile suits. The sport needs to move on. We have the refreshing prospect of having race reports in 2010 that list just the times and places. The sport has seen a resurgence in the public domain, having the Duel in the Pool televised live on BBC here in the UK was a great sign of how the sport is thriving, and I do not believe that the casual viewer will put up with 2 sets of records with the difference between them having to be continually explained.

We should also not forget that these WRs were set legally under FINA rules. It would be unjust to have these swimmers achievements wiped from the record books, or tainted by listing a second set of times next to them. By doing this we would be in danger of insinuating the suits as a form of cheating which they were not.

Without trying to go back on myself, I still do believe there is a place for the pre-Non Textile suit WRs. They are useful to have for those who follow swimming closely as a gauge of how fast swimmers are in relation to semi-comparable times. I do not see a problem in declaring if a swim has broken the fastest non-textile time, or if a swimmer has just swum the 3rd fastest non-Tech suit time ever etc., in fact I would encourage it. As Craig Lord points out in the interview, we do not want to crush the aspirations of younger swimmers who may believe they will never break a WR. If they can gain a certain level of recognition for breaking a textile fastest time, hopefully they can use this and aim for the Tech suit time. If the goal is so far fetched, the example was Kukors' 2:06 in the Women's 200IM, then some swimmers may lose hope. If they have Yanyan Wu's 2:09.72 as the first hurdle, hopefully the journey to breaking the 2:06 mark may seem less daunting.

Whatever your view on the current state of the WRs. Its a discussion that needs to continue.

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