Swimmings supersuits 'raised the bar'
Fri, 03 Aug 2012 10:13p.m.
Australian head coach Leigh Nugent said swimming's controversial supersuits
may have actually done some good for the sport as world records continue to fall
at the London Olympics.
American Rebecca Soni set the sixth new world mark of the meet as she
improved her own record to win the 200m breaststroke final on Thursday
While a handful of records were expected to fall, few predicted this many in
London as swimmers try to catch up to times set in polyurethane suits that were
banned at the start of 2010.
Many predicted some of those world records over shorter distances could take
decades to be broken but performances in London are showing a bigger advance
While Nugent, like most in swimming, agrees the suits damaged the sport he
said they may have spurred swimmers on to greater heights now.
"The suits maybe did some good for us, maybe they set some targets for people
to really go after, but that's the only good they did," Nugent said.
"I think (they) maybe set people's training specificity up to try and match
the speeds that are going to crack those records.
"There are still some there that are gong to be very hard to get obviously,
otherwise we would have got 40.
"... But I've said before when we went to world championships or Olympic
Games you'd often see somewhere between four and six world records and that was
a great meet. We've had six here and it's fantastic."
Three of the records broken in London were previously held by Australians,
leaving the nation with no current long course world record holder.
After Beijing, where the part-synthetic Speedo LZR bodysuits were in use, a
later generation of all-polyurethane suits saw a staggering 43 world records
fall at the 2009 world championships in Rome.
Coming into London, only two long-course world records had been set since
that meet, by Ryan Lochte (200IM) and Sun Yang (1500m freestyle) at last year's
world titles in Shanghai.
Chinese sensation Ye Shiwen got the ball rolling in London, taking down
Stephanie Rice's 400IM title before American Dana Vollmer became the first woman
to dip under the 56-second barrier in winning the 100m butterfly ahead of Alicia
South African Cameron van der Burgh beat Brenton Rickard's 100m breaststroke
mark and Hungary's Daniel Gyurta's time to down Christian Sprenger's in the 200m
Soni clocked a world record in the semi-finals of the women's 200m
breaststroke, before lowering the mark again in the final.
Several more records could fall on the closing two days in London and while
the total will surpass most's expectations, many swimmers aren't surprised.
"I think swimming is such a persevering sport and we are able to push our
boundaries and make higher limits for ourselves," US teenager Missy Franklin
"I think it is great we have been able to come out here and show the world,
hey, we don't need those suits to do those times."
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