Friday, November 20, 2009

Separate World Records? Why Wouldn't Craig Lord Want That?

Upon reading the recent SwimNews article about the FINA Coaches Commission's recommendation to separate tech records from textile, I was a little confused. I was under the impression that Craig Lord would have loved to isolate those “shiny suit” records in an effort to cast them into obscurity. I was a little taken back before when he was part of the team that recommended leaving them on the list of historical records while still listing the "world record" as any set outside of the non-textile time frame as he suggests again in the current article. That solution seemed to actually find a way to honor the athletes who set them legally in tech without disgracing them by erasing them completely.

When I got to thinking about his recent post, it occurred to me that Craig Lord was right in a strange way, when he suggested that the new recommendation might be like singling out the athletes who set the “inferior textile records” if we listed them separately because they would have less "perceived worth"… but why would he have issues with that? He has been the first to single out athletes who set records in tech, pointing the harshest and most damning finger in their direction. The records would be weeded out and all would be right in the textile world. No more chasing the marks of cheaters, right? Plus, when a tech record gets broken in textile, he would have a great "man triumphs over machine" article to write, eh?

Then, when he asked how reporters are supposed to deal with two world records listed in the start lists and results sheets of every event and the problems that may bring, he referred to listing tech records separately as “dragging the baggage of the past two years into the future…”

That’s when I got it. I see the angle now.

Maybe Craig Lord is foreseeing the future that I might dare to predict. Maybe he worries that the coaches commission is somehow trying to under-handedly keep those records in the public eye, not so that we can celebrate them more when the records are broken “unenhanced”… but perhaps he feels that they are trying to keep those records talked about to warm FINA and the general swimming population up to the idea of creating a separate PROFESSIONAL SWIM LEAGUE.

Think about it. Now, don’t just roll your eyes here. Hear me out. There is no other really valid reason to keep those records alive in this way. FINA holds the power to be able to completely squash any movement to create a separate league, but if the FINA coaches commission puts all of the pieces in place, it would open the door for FINA to have governance over it and be able to decide under what circumstances tech would be allowed. It might actually become a legitimate movement if it starts with this exact move on the chessboard. It is the most perfect first step toward finding a place for tech.

Craig Lord is not worrying about protecting the reputations of those athletes who set textile records for fear that those separate records might “indicate to the public that their ‘mark’ is somehow less important or worthy than the ‘real’ record” as he puts it.

Mr. Lord might be seeing the writing on the wall. There is a large contingent out there who wish for tech to stay around, and by keeping those records in the books separately, it ensures that those records will be looked at and talked about long enough for the issue to come around again with a new face and agenda. It ensures that the thorn in Craig Lord’s side might leave a wound that can be re-opened. Why keep those records listed in the meet program if they are not meant to be broken? Why have tech records, unless there might be future racing in tech? Separation is the only way tech could possibly follow us into the future.

I have always wondered if tech suits might be considered again if swimming does not receive a tremendous press following leading up to the 2012 or even the 2016 games. I kind of thought that we might have a little bit of a “Michael Jackson” reaction in the press. You know…. “Let’s hate on the suits until they are gone, and then we can all lament about how the sport will never be as exciting again without them and consider bringing them back.” We shall see. It could be that we are still unsure of what to make of tech and want to keep the door open to consider it for the future.

Is the FINA commission up to something big here behind the scenes? Is it possible that the big brains of the coaching world aren‘t ready to completely push technology out of our sport? Could it be that the decision makers of international swimming don’t see “shiny suits” as quite the abomination that Craig Lord contends that they are? Could the whole tech league idea have a chance at gaining some momentum? I can’t wrap my head around any other reason why Mr. Lord might have issues with a separate list of records.

Are you with me here? Conspiracy theorists please weigh in below.


  1. You made me realize something: The records need to be preserved not just as insurance against a pro league but to keep the door open a crack in case suits come back due to an epic fail of speedsuit ban.

    As for Lord Voldemort: IMHO the only equity he has as a "blogger" are his connections at FINA. Somebody on the board has his ear.

    BTW, if you send me an email we can discuss a pro league. I actually found a producer willing to pitch it.

  2. wow lord voldemort took his pen to answer this article in a editorial !

  3. Okay, Shawn. Apparently you're "clearly misguided in (your) second-guessing of the mind of Craig Lord." (his words)

    It's really hard for me to say this, but I'm actually agreeing more and more with Craig now that the whole debate is (somewhat) settled, and I want the rules to go ahead and change!

  4. yeah, David... I actually agree with the proposal he and Phil Whitten proposed over splitting tech from non-tech records. I truly respect Craig Lord and realize that his viewpoint is one that must be heard. My issues have always been the process by which we got into the mess in the first place, and the idea that athletes can be portrayed as though they are villains while following the rules. It is not their fault. Never has been.