Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unforseen Problems in a Tech-less World

At a high school invitational recently, four of the boys I coach were behind the blocks getting ready for a 200 medley relay when an official walked up to them and said “this just won’t do! You are going to have to get rid of those suits!”

“What?!” Replied my boys. “These are lycra jammers! It‘s not like this is a LZR!”

“You can’t wear two suits! You are all wearing two suits! I am going to have to disqualify you… we can’t delay the meet to give you time to change.”

“What?!" ...and then they took a look. "That’s not a brief… that’s the liner!”

The boys were allowed to swim when the official realized his mistake. All of this happened with me having no knowledge of it until the race was done. My boys were pretty freaked out over it. The official tried to tell them that they still needed to change after the race, but they ignored him.

We get our suits custom from AgonSwim.com. They do great custom dye work. We started ordering them with black liners because the girls suits had some modesty issues without it. In the boys suit, when they are wet, the liner looks like a brief showing through. It’s no big deal, but I know that at the state meet in the past, we have had a couple of incidents regarding logo’s and such where officials have shot first, continued with the meet, and then sorted it out later at the expense of kids who really hadn’t done anything wrong. At the pool where they host the state meet, it could take ten minutes for my athletes to wade through the crowd to get to me, and another ten for me to get over to the referee to get the whole story. By then, it would be way too late.

At the Central Sectional meet, Roman Sludnov was disqualified for wearing his drag suit in a race. It wasn’t that he forgot. He wore it because the brief he was wearing had malfunctioned and he didn’t have time to change. He didn’t seem to be that upset about it when he told me the story. It just serves as an unfortunate example of a rule that needs to be rewritten. His drag suit provided no advantage, and anyone who would argue that it did is an idiot.

Does anyone else think it is silly to not allow kids to wear a brief under a jammer anyway? And is there anyone out there who thinks the two suit rule is ridiculous when a kid gets disqualified if he forgets to take off his drag before he dives in? Modesty is an issue, but not the only one. The rule should allow for common sense. Didn’t USA Swimming already do something like this for age groupers?

The NFHS needs to address this one soon. It is gonna come up, and probably in a big way at someone’s state meet. Until Speedo and NASA team up to make a brief that you can wear under a suit for a technical boost, or a mesh drag suit that actually reduces drag, we need to allow officials to make a judgment call regarding advantage when addressing double suits. The rule as it is now started because of tech, and it should have disappeared with tech.

Of course, the down side of relaxing the rule would be that if they had been allowed to wear two suits at worlds this year, Ricky Beren’s ass might not have gotten so much press, and that would have just been bad for the sport.

3 comments:

  1. I was given a warning this past summer by a ref at a club meet. I was swimming for the heck of it, racing one of my Sr. swimmers (28yr versus 17). We were discussing my race and I was talking to her about swimming it in my bright red adidas drag suit (three stripes down the side, its sweet). She told me if I did she would have to stop the race, ask me to remove it and swim just in my brief. We have a good ref/coach relationship and I did not push the issue by trying to wear it, but what a stupid rule.

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  2. As the parent of an IL age group and HS swimmer, I couldn't believe when this rule came out. I actually laughed and said I could pick out parents on our own teams who I'd heard in the past complain about the way swimmers looked in some pretty ratty old drag suits. My thought was "WHO CARES HOW THEY LOOK!? They're here to swim"! But it's that type of person who wants everyone to conform to their idea of what is proper that seems to push these kinds of rules.

    The two suit rule does NOT benefit any swimmer ~ except for modesty sake. It's really nuts.
    Sometimes in an effort to control every little thing, people seem to go a little too far. I know a lot of girls that used to double up suits for the sake of modesty ~ since some suits are cut really high, or not lined well....or their suits have just worn out.

    I understand getting rid of the technical suits.. but banning the wearing of 2 suits doesn't make sense to this ex-swimmer & swim parent.

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