Shiny Suits Ball & Chained In A Watery Grave But Their Impact Lives On: ‘Progress’ 2008-16

Michael Phelps set to go at Rome 2009 - Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer

This time a decade ago, Speedo, so long so much a part of the good things in swimming and the development of the sport, was preparing to weave the worst thing it ever wove into the water: hugely significant suit-assistance that altered natural angles of buoyancy and the flow of swimmers through the most unforgiving element in the world of sport – water. In a January mini-series, SwimVortex looks at the impact still being felt by shiny suits two Olympic cycles on and at least several cycles shy of the last shiny suit time disappearing from the all-time top 10 rankings

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ridiculous story here 🙂 Speedo creates a suit that dominates 2008 including the Olympics, the main show of the sport, next year they are at a disadvantage to Arena and Jaked, Bowman
says Phelps would not race if they didn’t get rid of them (and some others too, I guess, who were bound to use Speedo) –> they get rid of them 😀 all this after they forced the Olympic finals to be held in the morning so Americans could watch it prime time. Was pretty pissed to say the least. Wonder why they didn’t complain before the Olympics 🙂


by they I meant Americans*

Craig Lord

There are certainly ironies galore in the whole saga, ITR – and yes, the USA was instrumental in getting rid of what it benefitted from and was then disadvantaged by. Good outcome – plenty of lessons in the midst, including a variety of explanations for why there is no drive to face FINA to submit to long overdue independent review that would surely lead to long-overdue reform of the governance of world swimming. Americans, of course, were far from being the only once pressing their case according to circumstance; nor were they the only ones to press for an end to suits, European coaches on the deck and on the ball and protesting very publicly in December 2009, even as some of their swimmers were knocking spots off what had previously gone for best times.


What about Phelp’s 1:43.86 as Agnel’s closest company?

Matthew Tsao

Correction: Magnussen’s best time in the 100 free is actually 47.10, not 47.05. (47.05 was Eamon Sullivan’s Olympic Record time from Beijing ’08)

Also, for the 200 freestyle: how does 2016 have more shiny swims in the top 25 than 2012? Shouldn’t it have less, since no shiny swims happened after 2009?

Craig Lord

Thanks Matthew. Yes, 47.10 (my private table is much more comprehensive, a case of copying the wrong column 🙂 2012 200m is 16/25.

Craig Lord

O, go on then, I’ll give ya that one 🙂 Thanks Ger.


I would be intrigued to see today’s swimmers put on the apparel that was around 30 years ago. Didn’t James Guy swim in a standard brief during the GB trials last year with not very impressive results? Mary T. in a super suit; what would her times have been, or Janet Evans?


Or Krisztina Egerszegi in a full body X-Glide/Jaked. Holy cow, that record would have never been broken in my lifetime.

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