Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Now that the powers that be in the world of swimming have removed the ugliness of technology, by banning the LZR Racer Speedo swimsuit, I have invented a better way to put high tech into swimming. In fact, I've invented a whole new sport worth billions, and I'm going to just give it away.

Here's how it works. The goal, as usual, is to race some number of laps in the shortest time. The swimmer is allowed to wear, in addition to his modest swimsuit, a powerful motor of any kind, plus whatever helmet and pads he (or she) deems adviseable. The motor is operated by the swimmer's teammate, the 'navigator', who sits on dry tile with a remote-control pad. The swimmer's job is to get his body and the motor into the ideal position for supreme-speed efficiency at all times, and to manage the turn-around at each end of the pool. The navigator is responsible for accelerating as much as possible during a lap, and decelerating near the end of a lap to avoid killing the swimmer, by breaking his neck in the the fast-rushing water, or by slamming his body against the end of the pool.

I'm afraid the paying crowd (and they will pay a lot!) will be more interested in whether any of the swimmers is bashed to death during the race. But hey! That's why this sport will be worth billions.


Ender said...

I'm not sure I'm totally with you on this one. I mean, there have been lots of developments that drastically changed various sports - clap skates for speed skaters, new composites for bikes/golf clubs/skis/toboggans/etc., and more. New computer models of biomechanics have resulted in better optimized use of the body and training regimens. Hell, the size of a swimming pool (as the one at Beijing, which was far larger than normal to eliminate edge effects) and your placement in a lane will significantly affect results.

As long as the modifications made are passive - lighter materials, different coatings, etc. - why complain about just one example of technology improving physical performance in sports? If we complain about them all, though, we're going to have to change a lot about how sports works.

The Precision Blogger said...

My point is that swimming is different because it does not require things like golf balls and clubs, which can always be technologically improved. but when you mention fiddling with swimming pools ... I think you've got me. That's technology again.

The LZR swim suit is still strikingly different because of all the time it takes out of a person's life. The time a swimmer spends actually SWIMMING is time better spent.
- PB

Ender said...

Can't you imagine, though, that the technology will improve yet again with a version of these faster suits that don't take as long to put on? I'm sure the companies are well aware of the wasted time, and are working diligently on making them easier to use.

For that matter, the old suits that swimmers wore weren't exactly run of the mill Speedos, either - it's just that the most recent set of changes has resulted in such a dramatic shift in racing times that people are really noticing.

Really, the only way you could make it entirely a matter of physical effort/training is by draconian rules - identical pool sizes, running races multiple times with random lane placement, mandating all training be done at sea level, identical training equipment (we wouldn't want richer countries to be able to train their athletes better by using fancy technology in gyms, would we?)... oh, and the swimmers should swim naked, or with identical swimsuits issued by the racing committee.

I'm sure that runners feel the same way about running as you do about swimming (not requiring equipment/etc.), but that sure hasn't stopped shoe companies from making some really fancy running shoes that significantly improve racing times. Should we make them run barefoot, or use identical clogs? What about their jerseys/shorts/etc - I'm willing to bet that clothing design has significantly improved long-distance running times - helping with sweating, freedom of movement, etc.